Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter

Book Description via Goodreads:

18-year-old Lainey Pike can tell you everything you need to know about the people in her family just by telling you how they died. Her reckless stepfather drove his motorcycle off the highway and caused the biggest traffic jam in years. Her long-suffering grandmother lived through cancer and a heart attack before finally succumbing to a stroke. And Lainey's mother, still devastated over her husband's death, hung herself in the basement just days after Lainey's high school graduation. Now Lainey's five-year-old brother is an orphan and her estranged older sister moves back home to act as his guardian. Dealing with her brother has always been a struggle, but sharing the responsibility with her sister is proving to be just as challenging.

Lainey knows that this is all her mother's fault, but she also knows that she eventually has to move out of the "anger" phase of the grieving process. What she can't figure out, though, is how to make peace with a dead woman.

Source: Holly Nicole Hoxter (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

Lainey is going through a hard time. She knows that normal people should cry when one of their parents die. However, it seems like there are no tears for the mother she never understood. She is left with the responsibility of taking care of Collin and adjusting to the older sister she has not seen for years. Aside from all of these, she comes to find that going through the grieving process is difficult. She is stuck in step two – the anger phase – and finds that she is unable to stop herself from manifesting this emotion.

Hoxter presented a different angle with which to view life. All the flavours of life are mixed together to come up with this perfect recipe. Sad and tragic, Lainey had the attention her sister desired and lost the love and caring that her little brother had. Her imperfection and her troubled state led her to pour all her anger on Riley, the perfect boyfriend. I guess, when you are perfect, your own imperfection is your own perfection. The inability to do nothing wrong would be extremely annoying to the people around, as well as intimidating such as to cause envy. Although I do not believe that there is such a thing as a perfect boyfriend, I would like to know more about Riley, to find out why he has become the person who keeps Lainey standing. I found Eric, the unexpected stranger who stepped in Lainey’s life, fascinating. His philosophy and reasoning piqued my interest. Of all the characters, I liked him the most.

If I were asked to tell you what YA book I have read and learned the most from, I would answer in three words: The Snowball Effect. Reading this novel was like going through a journey. It was like living a section of someone else’s life and closing the book and walking away with a new perception and so much more.

The Snowball Effect is heartbreakingly beautiful with the generous amount of loss, struggle, anger and confusion. Readers will enjoy the bittersweet taste in this story of grief.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spotted: Lesley Hauge + Nomansland

I'm fortunate to be given the chance to interview Lesley Hauge, the debut author of Nomansland - a novel that I loved. You can find my review here. I present the very interesting interview:

How long have you been writing?

I have worked as a journalist most of my adult life but wrote unpublished fiction on and off for at least 15 years before I got NOMANSLAND published.

Why did you choose to write for teens?

The idea I had, inspired by the paragraph from THE CHRYSALIDS (which serves as an epigraph to the book) seemed to come alive if told from the perspective of a young teenaged girl.

What did you want to let your readers to pick up from Nomansland?

I would love for my readers to think about the complexities of feminism. On the one hand, there is the grim, man-hating version that puts most women off and then there is the more confusing you-can-have-your-cake-and-eat-it modern version: i.e. you can wear short skirts, push-up bras and heels and STILL be taken seriously ... well I'm not so sure, and yet I don't want a colorless, joyless world of drab clothes and no makeup either! There is some tricky navigating for young women to do when it comes to deciding how they want to present themselves and how they want to be perceived -- and they are so judged! I want my readers to think about the ways in which female oppression is still deeply embedded in our culture (like the Pandora myth and the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden), and how the freedoms we have won, the sexual freedoms, the freedom to work and earn money, we have won have been, to some extent, co-opted by the advertising and our consumerist way of life. They convey the idea that girls and young women are primarily valued for their sexuality, not their intelligence, their competence, their humor or just their very humanity. Sexiness and buying stuff is peddled to us as "girl power" but in fact, it is a return to the old stereotyped ideas of women as little more than decorative objects good for sex and not much more. Furthermore the images in advertising and celebrity pictures are deeply narcissistic, "look-at-me" and yet they are so passive. The objects, the Barbie dolls and the magazines that the girls find in the hidden house are meant to represent this aspect of our culture for Keller, who is not as entranced by them as the other girls. This skepticism makes her skeptical of her society as a whole, and she starts to question the unbending, and ultimately hypocritical world in which she lives. I thought by setting my novel in a dystopia, these ideas might be presented in a new and interesting way.

What or who inspired you to start writing Nomansland?

Definitely the paragraph from THE CHRYSALIDS by John Wyndham and also my own experiences at my very strict colonial all-girls, all-female staff school.

They were obsessed with controlling our appearance, and, I suppose, our sexuality, and yet they allowed this horrible annual beauty contest that made princesses of a few girls and ugly sisters of the rest of us.

If you were a character in Nomansland, who would you be?

I'm more Keller than Laing, but I would like to be Smith -- she has some serenity.

In three words, describe what writing Nomansland was like.

Writing is hard.

Foundland is an isolated but beautiful place. How did you come to build this?

I spent many years living in Norway and wanted to write about a place that was bleak and snowy yet beatiful.

If you could change one thing about our society, what would it be?

I would like people to sit still more and do nothing except think.

What is your message to all the females out there?

Always make sure you earn your own money. Men are great, but don't base your life on them.

Thank you Lesley!

Book description via Goodreads:

Sometime in the future, a lonely, windswept island is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men. When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

Available now. Grab a copy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fast Forward Monday (20)

Fast Forward Monday features books that will be released in the next three months.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Release Date: September 21, 2010

Book Description via Goodreads:

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

The Frenzy by Francesca Lia Block
Release Date: September 27, 2010

Book Description via Goodreads:

When she was thirteen, something terrifying and mysterious happened to Liv that she still does not understand, and now, four years later, her dark secret threatens to tear her apart from her family and her true love.

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Release Date: November 25, 2010

Book Description via Goodreads:

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that’s who.

Ever since his father’s arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone—and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.
Can Henry solve the mystery of his family’s sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan
Release Date: October 4, 2010

Book Description via Goodreads:

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Book Description via Goodreads:

Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…

When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

I loved 13 to Life, so much that I want to read the sequel right now. It’s magnificently absorbing. It was easy to get lost in the story world of Jess and the mysterious Phantom Wolves.

Jess is someone so real; she’s so real, I could have touched her arm. Her flaws make her herself – grieving, forgiving and lying Jessica. Little by little, I got to see inside her head: her mom’s death and impact on her life, her decision to help Sarah recover and her undeniable attraction to Derek and Pietr. Haunted by a nightmare that reopens her wounds, grieving and healing are two issues she needs to face. At times foolish and almost too martyr, she tries to carry on listening to her mom’s last words.

Pietr at first, made me so anxious with all his time checking as if something was about to happen at any moment or something was already happening and whatever it was, was about to end abruptly. Reckless and seemingly always pressed for time, he never fails to make Jess worry and ponder. He is sometimes bold with his intentions and emotions, expressing what he truly feels and not wasting time to do so. But underneath all the recklessness, he carries secrets that will question everything Jess believed about him.

I appreciated the fact that Russian characters as well as bits of Russian culture and history was included in the novel. This inclusion produced a harmonious blend of cultures, as well as a foreign taste to the story. The coincidental events also emphasized the intentions of fate and the predestined meeting of Jess and Pietr, testifying to the mysterious works of destiny.

Shannon Delany’s way of storytelling worked well for me. There was not a boring moment. The plot was smoothly done. The flow of words was almost intoxicating, injecting awe and respect in my system. The ending had me surprised and wanting to read more.

13 to Life will suck readers in and refuse to let go until you’ve devoured the bittersweet tale of death, danger, secrets and romance within its very pages.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (8)

It's been a long time since I've last participated in Book Blogger Hop! I've been so busy with my studies that I've lost the time to blog as much as I did during the summer vacation (March-May). And now I'm fortunate enough to have less worries than usual. Oh and thank you to Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books for coming up with this wonderful meme!

About the Hop:

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!

I'm currently reading The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter. It's about a girl whose mother just commited suicide. She's now facing burdens such as struggling with taking care of her not-so-normal 5 year old brother, adjusting with her older sister and dealing with the process of grieving, as well as understanding herself and her emotions.

What are you waiting for? Join the Hop!

Welcome to Fragments of Life! If you happen to drop by, please leave a comment so I can visit your blog too. I love meeting fellow booklovers and book bloggers!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spotted: Stacey Kade + The Ghost and The Goth

I remember the first time I saw the cover of The Ghost and The Goth (TGATG). Various bloggers featured this cover art and expressed their desire to read this. Back then, I didn't even know that TGATG is scheduled to be released this year. I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacey Kade, the author of TGATG. Here's the interview:

What is your purpose in writing The Ghost and The Goth?

I always write to tell myself the story first, so I guess I was just having fun! :) I recommend that for all writers, actually. Have fun telling yourself the story first, and then worry about what everyone else thinks. Otherwise, you'll drive yourself crazy!

What lessons will the readers pick up from your novel?

Hmm. I think that's a hard one to answer. I definitely don't set out to convey lessons in my books because I think everybody will pick up something different from them. However, the theme that I hope comes across through this book is that nobody's life is perfect. Everyone has their own set of troubles. Some troubles are just more obvious than others.

Why did you focus on ghosts?

I've always been fascinated by ghosts and hauntings. This was just an opportunity to explore that idea a little more deeply and figure out how it all might work.

Can you tell us about the relationship of Alona and Will?

Oh, the two of them are so much fun to write. They both need each other, though neither one of them would ever admit it. I also think it's definitely a case of opposites attracting, you know?

Was there a part of the novel that was hard to write?

As I recall, the end was tough. I'd written a draft up to about the last seventy-five pages and then I had to start pulling things together, and I wasn't sure how to make it work at first!

How does your mood affect your writing?

I try not to let it. It's very easy to let yourself slide by saying, "I don't feel like writing today." But the trick is to set goals for yourself and keep writing. Otherwise, you can always talk yourself out of it, and the story never gets finished.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I'm working on a couple of new ideas as well as third book in the Alona-Will trilogy.

What tips can you give to aspiring writers (like me)?

Keep writing! And keep having fun with it. :) Also, finish your stories. Even if you don't think they're good or if they're full of mistakes, write them all the way until the end. You learn so much by doing that.

What would you like to say to the people who have included your novel in their wish lists and / or to-be-read piles?

Thank you so much for giving my book a chance, and I really hope you enjoy it! :)

Thank you for dropping by, Stacey!

Book Description via Goodreads:

After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck here in spirit form with no sign of the big, bright light coming to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser/outcast type who hates the social elite. He alone can see and hear her, but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.

Can they get over their mutual distrust—and this weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishes for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist?

Sounds interesting? Grab a copy now!

* photo taken from Stacey Kade's Official Website.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone

Book Description via Goodreads:

When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie’s Beverly Hills family, she feels anything but home. Her dark complexion and accent stick out like a sore thumb in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fastforward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie’s queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed, and that feeling invisible is a wound that can only be healed by standing up for who she is.

Brilliant newcomer Mary Hanlon Stone delivers a compulsively readable insider’s view of growing up in a world where money and privilege don’t always glitter.

Source: Penguin USA (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

When I picked up Invisible Girl, I didn’t expect that I would finish it that fast. I was pulled in by the struggle and sadness of Stephanie. The novel starts with a powerful and emotionally-charged scene and peels Stephanie’s skin to reveal the scared and worried girl that she is underneath her carefully composed façade. The comfort and protection coming from words was a unique thing about this novel. It adds personality to her and creates fun and vivid imagery.

The story of Stephanie was artfully written. The complexities of her life, her mask hiding her problems and her hunger for a sense of belongingness propel her to try to fit in, in Annie’s luxurious and sparkly little world – where she is Annie’s rich and significant cousin, but in reality, she is the opposite. The weight of peer pressure was shown with forced compliance and sometimes harsh and raw exchanges between the characters. The want to belong and be accepted in a group forces Stephanie to be someone she is not, someone fake, someone who is an echo of manipulating and demanding Annie. The impulsive and fluctuating emotions of teenagers were also mirrored and accompanied by a care-free feel.

Amal is the image of purity and innocence. She’s the rival of Annie, the dark goddess of beauty. Pawned and deceived by the welcoming act of Annie and her friends, she stumbles clueless onto the path of masked cruelty. Ignored and obviously not belonging to Annie’s circle of friends, Stephanie finds a friend in Amal.

Invisible Girl is the struggle of an abused girl through the pain and agony of domestic violence, cruelty and apathy of fortunate kids, and the difficulty of opening up and admitting that something is weighing her down.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Fast Forward Monday (19)

Fast Forward Monday is a meme that I will be starting in Fragments of Life. It features books that will be released in the next three months.

Dark Song by Gail Giles
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Book Description:
Mark said he heard the dark song when he creeped houses. The song the predator's heart sings when it hears the heart of the prey. I heard it now. Mark said it had always been in me. Lurking. Waiting for me to hear.

Ames is not the person she was a few months ago. Her father lost his job, and her family is crumbling apart. Now, all she has is Marc. Marc, who loves her more than anything. Marc, who owns a gun collection. And he'll stop at nothing--even using his guns--to get what he wants. Ames feels her parents have betrayed her with their lies and self-absorption, but is she prepared to make the ultimate betrayal against them?

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin
Release Date: September 7, 2010

Book Description:

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe, but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself. Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt. Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasn't been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
Release Date: September 14, 2010

Book Description:

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow's five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she's ever known crumbles, Autumn's compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there's more of Kristina in her than she'd like to believe. Summer doesn't know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father's girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother's notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family's story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person's problem.

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Release Date: September 14, 2010

Book Description:

Avery Hood is reeling from the loss of her parents--and the fact that she can't remember what happened to them even though she was there.

She's struggling to adjust to life without them, and to living with her grandmother, when she meets Ben, who isn't like any guy she's ever met before.

It turns out there's a reason why, and Ben's secret may hold the key to Avery finding out what happened to her parents...

But what if that secret changes everything she knows about--and feels for--Ben?

*book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Book Description via Goodreads:

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.

Source: Won from Deadline Dames and Karen Healey (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

I really liked Ellie. Ellie Spencer is a realistic and strong teen with mundane worries in her life. Sarcasm and humor blends deliciously well in this heroine. To encounter a character is a pleasure for me. The brain is above the heart. It was meant to be the one relied upon in decision making. This is exactly what Ellie does. She is logical and practical and not easily blown to any direction with her emotions. After an accident with her crush, Ellie’s eyes start to open and see what the world is really like.

Karen Healey spun a rich tale of Maori mythology that is outstanding and enchanting. The manifestation of mythology in the world through knowledge and the way it changed someone’s perspective and vice versa, seemed fit.

The story is refreshing. Its uniqueness made it easy for me to devour it. Healey has a way with words that I find comfortably entertaining. The plot and the background are so rich and detailed, branching from a seemingly mundane encounter to several paranormal bubbles.

On the downside of things, it took a bit long for the author to reveal what she has to reveal. I was beyond filled with questions and musings by the time I found out about the real deal of things.

Guardian of the Dead is an engrossing tale of a mythology that grips readers with a mystery of a foreign taste and a tale of strength and determination. I am undoubtedly fascinated.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spotted: Anastasia Hopcus + Shadow Hills

So today is the official release date of Shadow Hills! I've read wonderful reviews about this novel and I'm itching to get my hands on a copy soon. I have Anastasia Hopcus with me, the author that brought to life the story of Shadow Hills. Enjoy the interview.

What lessons will readers learn from Shadow Hills?

The theme of my book has to do with figuring out who you really are, especially in the face of adversity. It also touches on the importance of standing up for yourself and taking charge of your own life. I hope that is what readers will take away from Shadow Hills.

Where did you get the inspiration to write Shadow Hills?

I saw a 60 Minutes segment on a gifted savant, and it made me start thinking about what the human brain is capable of and what kind of advantages, as well as problems, people would have if they had extraordinary mental abilities.

Can you tell us about Phe?

Phe has been having strange and eerie dreams, much like the ones her sister had before she died. She leaves LA to attend Devenish Prep, the boarding school that her sister mentioned in her last diary entry. Phe meets a mysterious guy named Zach. While Phe is drawn to him, she remains her own person. Phe has a backbone and a mind of her own---she’s impulsive and this often gets her into trouble, but she's nobody's doormat.

How will you describe writing Shadow Hills in three words?

fun, engrossing, challenging

Was there a part of a novel that was hard to write?

I find writing action scenes challenging because it's really important to me that they're clear enough that you understand what's going on but without making it sound like you're reading blow-by-blow instructions from a sports playbook.

How does your mood affect your writing?

I definitely get more done when I'm feeling upbeat, with a lot of energy, but if I'm too excited, I can't sit still long enough to write. Needless to say I didn't get a whole lot done the week I first saw my cover. J

What are you working on now?

I'm continuing to explore the possibilities for Phe and Zach, but I also have a few other ideas that I'm developing as well. One of the projects I'm working on is also a YA paranormal like Shadow Hills, but historical and set in London. Unfortunately, it's not far enough along for me to elaborate further.

Why did you choose to write for teens?
As someone who has no intention of growing up any time soon and who has always loved books and tv shows set in high school, it just seemed like a natural fit for me.

What tips can you give to aspiring writers?

Read as many books in the genre as you possibly can. Take notes of what you like and don't like about them. When it comes to getting your work out there, be persistent. If the first agent says no, send it along to the next. Above all, keep writing.

What would you like to say to the people who have read Shadow Hills or have included your novel in their wishlists and/or to-be-read piles?

It's so exciting for me that people are interested in Shadow Hills. I'm really grateful for all the support I've received from bloggers and readers. I just hope people have as much fun reading Shadow Hills as I did writing it!

Thank you Anastasia for dropping by!

Book Description via Goodreads:

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fast Forward Monday (18)

Fast Forward Monday is a meme that I will be starting in Fragments of Life. It features books that will be released in the next three months.

Empty by Suzanne Weyn
Release Date: October 1, 2010

Book Description:

It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Release Date: October 5, 2010

Book Description:

Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.

When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn't have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign.
Slayed by Amanda Marrone
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Book Description:
The Van Helsing family has been hunting vampires for over one hundred years, but sixteen-year-old Daphne wishes her parents would take up an occupation that doesn’t involve decapitating vamps for cash. All Daphne wants is to settle down in one place, attend an actual school, and finally find a BFF to go to the mall with. Instead, Daphne has resigned herself to a life of fast food, cheap motels and buying garlic in bulk.

But when the Van Helsings are called to a coastal town in Maine, Daphne’s world is turned upside down. Not only do the Van Helsings find themselves hunting a terrifying new kind of vampire (one without fangs but with a taste for kindergarten cuisine), Daphne meets her first potential BF! The hitch? Her new crush is none other than Tyler Harker, AKA, the son of the rival slayer family.

What's a teen vampire slayer to do?
Freefall by Mindi Scott
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Book Description:
How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .

*book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Review: Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Book Description:

Sometime in the future, a lonely, windswept island is populated
solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged
Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to
protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been
told, is men. When these girls come upon a partially buried
home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange
objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found
there. What are they to make of these mysterious things? And
what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is
forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

Source: Publisher (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Nomansland gripped me and refused to let me go. As a girl who lives in a machismo society, I truly appreciate this novel. It uplifted women to the point of equality that has been desired for many years. Foundland was such a wondrous place despite the strange strict laws that they need to obey. With the buried houses and objects from the Time Before (our time), it was like discovering the present and seeing the things that I know through a foreign pair of eyes. The things of vanity led to awe and confusion, as well as tons of questions as to why and how these were used. It was nice to perceive these things and be able to draw the line between wants and needs, and to realize how we have come to attain comfort and luxury. The Tribulation remained a big question mark in my head. I was so curious about it and I found it a bit disappointing that this was not explained further. In addition to this, I wanted to know about the reason why they have come to be isolated, who authored the strict rules, and what happened to the Old People who used to live in Foundland.

Keller was a girl with a strong sense of right and wrong. But the discovery of a dwelling of the Old People fuelled her curiosity and doubt of everything she knows. After this shook her, she began to witness the acts of rebellion within the society and committing of the seven Pitfalls. With these too, I started to see the carelessness and desire of the isolated women to find out more about the past. It was more than just curiosity. It was a need to know. The characters were fascinating. I wish I got to know them on a deeper level.

Lesley Hauge brought to life women of strength, independence and power and raised several issues connected not only to femininity and equality between the sexes but also to beauty and vanity. Foundland was an isolated world of laws and restrictions, of simplicity and of practicality. It was a world so plain that it lacks expression, excitement and 'life;' a world that was the opposite of ours. It reflected that same hunger for power and deceit that exist and victimize people.

Nomansland is an intriguing story about the value of friendship and solitude, the consequences of obedience and disobedience, and the danger of greed and power.


Weekly Update (5)

Books Read:

The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge (almost done)


Other Posts:


I've been a good blogger this past week. I was able to catch up with the news and updates, and I helped Clearwood Collections. I was able to post for Black Book Weekend too.

What to Expect:

This is getting redundant. But for real, these two reviews will be posted if it's the last thing I do. I keep forgetting to type them up. :(

Caleb + Kate Review
Guardian of the Dead Review (Blackbook weekend)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Black Book Weekend: Interview with Cyn Balog (Sleepless)

It's July! And a few days from now...Sleepless will be released. So far I haven't encountered a YA book with Sandmen in it. I love dreams - the reason why I also loved the Dreamcatcher Series - so it's not a surprise that I'm interested in Sleepless. Today, I have Cyn Balog with me. Enjoy the interview!

What lessons will readers learn from Sleepless?

I don't really try to put lessons in my books. Maybe not to do anything in their bedroom when they think nobody's watching, because someone may be.

Where did you get the inspiration to write Sleepless?

I wrote a first draft of SLEEPLESS and my editor hated it. So I had to start over. I was 6 months pregnant at the time and thinking that this was the end of my career. Somehow I managed to psych myself up by telling myself this was the job I've dreamed of my entire life, and I was NOT GOING TO BLOW IT. So I managed to write it in 3 weeks. It's all a blur. I have no idea what I was thinking at the time. I didn't even have a critique partner read it, which I always do. It was amazing it was accepted. But since I wrote the book so quickly, the cool thing is that when I got the finished copies I was able to read it like someone else had written it. I didn't remember what it was about.

Why focus on Sandmen?

They're the new vampire, but sexier. Or at least, that's what I keep telling everyone.

How will you describe writing Sleepless in five words?

Three weeks of total chaos.

Was there a part of a novel that was hard to write?

I read a couple of novels before this that were told from alternating viewpoints, but both the characters sounded THE SAME. Sometimes I would get confused as to whose story I was reading. I really wanted to make the viewpoints of Julia and Eron different, unmistakable. Julia is unsure of herself, she has had a lot of trauma in her life and relies on her boyfriend Griffin to give her a sense of normalcy. Eron is the old-time gentleman.

How does your mood affect your writing?

I used to get depressed a lot, when I was younger. Writers do that, you know. We analyze things too much, including ourselves. It's only been in the past few years that I've learned to turn that analysis outward, toward other things, which strengthened my ability to write. Now my moods are much more even.

What are you working on now?

I just finished copyedits for STARSTRUCK, my 2011 novel, and I'm writing the first draft of LIVING BACKWARDS, my 2012 novel. I'm also tooling with a proposal for another YA paranormal set in upstate Maine, and revising my dystopian YA (everyone's writing one!).

Why did you choose to write for teens?

Teens are way more interesting. So many firsts. Every time I get a fan letter from a teen I am reminded why. They are so passionate about what they read. Adulthood and sophistication is boring and overrated.

What tips can you give to aspiring writers?

The first thing would be, never give up. The second thing would be to find the story only you can tell, and tell it well. Do not stress too much about what agents and editors want, or the "rules" of publication. Remember first and foremost that you are a storyteller, and your job is to impart and interesting story. Just find the best way to do that. That's all it comes down to.

What would you like to say to the people who have read Sleepless or have included your novel in their wishlists and/or to-be-read piles?

I am so grateful to you all. I am fully aware I would not have other books coming out if it weren't for you, and so for that I thank you.

Thank you Cyn!

*picture was taken from Cyn's Official Website.

Angelfire ARC Giveaway

I know you've probably heard of this. I found out about this days ago but wasn't really able to post because of my hectic schedule. When I visited the link again, I was surprised. 202 comments were there. I can sense that Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton is going to be a hit.

Courtney is giving away a signed ARC at her blog. Read on to find out more.

“At last a YA novel about a sword-yielding-butt-kicking 17 year old girl who has been destined to fight the forces of evil; by her side is Will, her guardian angel protector. Ellie is not that contemporary teen of other novels, who constantly needs rescuing by her immortal boyfriend. Packed with blistering action, mystery, romance, and terror, readers will be glued from the first page to the last, breathlessly waiting for book two of this exciting trilogy!”

--Becky Anderson, Anderson’s Bookshop

“When it comes to the order of meanings listed in Dictionaries under the term 'YA Romance' it's past time to push 'yearning for the unobtainable' down the list in favor of ‘an emotional rip tide fueled by subsumed memories of a seven hundred year intermittent but evolving and passionate devotion, gradually resurfacing amidst the backdrop of round two of the War Against Heaven,’ and ANGELFIRE is just the book to do it. This book throws so many satisfying emotional elements, inventive action scenes, and even a few philosophical tidbits at its readers that they cannot fail to feel themselves in the midst rather than on the margins of the story. Ellie may ask a lot of questions but the only thing her audience will be asking is when is book two.”
-- Kenny Brechner, DDG Booksellers

“This is an amazing, powerful novel with lots of action and fighting scenes that will keep you on your toes. Ellie is a strong, hard-core character you wouldn't want to mess with, and this novel is one you wouldn't want to miss out on.”
-- Lydia Hutcheons, Barbara’s Bookstore