Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

This is the first time I'm doing a Teaser Tuesday. I've seen this meme around eversince I started blogging and even before that. Because I'm trying to make up for my laziness, I'll be doing more memes - which includes Teaser Tuesdays.

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:

And what she had was a lot like a disease. Something she was born with, something that couldn’t be cured, something very, very bad.

- Hush Money by Susan Bischoff (ebook version), p. 4

What's your teaser?

Fast Forward Monday (25)

Fast Forward Monday is about upcoming books that I want to read.

Entice by Carrie Jones
Release Date: December 7, 2010

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that’s not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he’s been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it’s taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there’s that other small problem: Zara’s been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn’t just turned… She’s Astley’s queen.

Tutored by Allison Whittenberg (Kindle Edition)
Release Date: December 14, 2010

Wendy Anderson and Hakiam Powell are at opposite ends of the spectrum—the social spectrum, the financial spectrum, the opportunity spectrum, you name it. Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she’s always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn’t want her mingling with “those people.” In fact, all Wendy’s life, her father has told her how terrible “those people” are. He even objects to Wendy’s plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life. Hakiam has never lived in one place for more than a couple of years. When he aged out of foster care in Ohio, he hopped a bus to Philly to start over, but now he’s broke, stuck taking care of his cousin’s premature baby for no pay, and finding it harder than ever to stay out of trouble. When he meets Wendy at the tutoring center, he thinks she’s an uppity snob—she can’t possibly understand his life. But as he gets to know her better, he sees a softer side. And eventually—much to the chagrin of Wendy’s father and Hakiam’s cousin—they begin a rocky, but ultimately enlightening, romance. This edgy story about a star-crossed couple features strong African American characters and sparkles with smart, quirky dialogue and fresh observations on social pressures and black-on-black prejudice. From the Hardcover edition.

A Good Boy is Hard to Find by Suzanne Young
Release Date: November 25, 2010

It's the semester leading up to the state championships, and the Smitten Kittens have admitted their former nemesis Chloe Ferril to the squad. So when the cheerleaders are exposed as the SOS (their secret spy identity) and humiliated by the football team, they have to wonder: Is Chloe a true kitten or a saboteur?

Head cheerleader Tessa Crimson must again tease out the truth while navigating her own less than strawberry smoothie love life. Should the squad continue to catch cheating boyfriends and bring them to justice? Or have they really been using sleuthing as a romantic crutch?

Matched by Allyson Condie
Release Date: November 30, 2010

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

*Book Descriptions are from Goodreads.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unbroken Connection by Angela Morrison (Now Available)

Angela Morrison is one of my favorite YA authors. So far, she is my favorite author of non-paranormal books. Her writing is something that makes me live, breathe and think within her character's position. I love how her writing has that effect on me.

And now, she's back with a new novel: Unbroken Connection (UC), the sequel of Taken by Storm. I've been dying to know what would happen next. And like the first book, I'm positive that UC won't disappoint.

Oh and this is what the actual book looks like:

Her son, Andy, made this trailer for the sequel:

I just love the song. It reminds me of the trailer of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. This just makes me more curious.

You can purchase the paperback version in Createspace and the ebook/kindle version in Amazon.
Don't miss this chance to continue the story!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Giveaway)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is up for grabs!

But first, here's the book summary: Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
The Blurbs:
Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book."

—MAUREEN JOHNSON, NYT bestselling author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Scarlett Fever

"Imagine a mug of rich, thick hot chocolate. Now add a swirl of sweet whipped cream. Yummy? Oui. Well, Anna and the French Kiss is richer, sweeter, and—yes—even hotter. You're in for a very special treat."
—LAUREN MYRACLE, NYT bestselling author of Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks and Let It Snow

"No one captures the exhilarating and exhausting 'but-does-he-like-me?!' question better than Stephanie Perkins. A scrumptious read."
—JUSTINA CHEN, author of North of Beautiful

"Smart and sensual, Anna and the French Kiss is everything your heart is longing for. You'll want to live inside this story forever. More, s'il vous plaît."
—LISA MCMANN, NYT bestselling author of the Wake trilogy

"From the magical streets of Paris to its charming narrator, Anna and the French Kiss has it all. A wonderfully winning book!"
—ROBIN BENWAY, author of Audrey, Wait! and The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June

Are you thinking, "I so NEED to read this awesome YA debut novel."? Yes?
Well...you're in luck! Stephanie is sacrificing her last ARC for the contest at her blog. Contest is open internationally and will end on August 30th!

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. This is supposedly a weekly meme that explores the mailbox and shelves of bloggers. It's been a long time since I posted my last IMM. I've been lazy. I know. I'm making up for it with this updated IMM.

For Review:

Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell (ARC)

In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die.

The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying.

Kelsa has the power to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet.

The Bent Sword by Stephen Gashler

When a daydreaming peasant named Steffin decides to take control of his own destiny, an adventure begins that has serious consequences. Though his adventures are reckless, Steffin's passion is contagious, and he eventually recruits men to fight against his nemesis, the Lord of Boredom. Yet, the journey is difficult, and problems constantly block the path these comrades are taking. Will the Lord of Boredom succeed in quelling what could be the greatest of all adventures? The Bent Sword is as an inspiration for anyone who ever wondered why life isn’t more like a storybook.

Trance by Linda Gerber (signed ARC)

It begins with a subtle vibration, a tingling.
There is time to take only one breath.
The trance begins.
When it is through, Ashlyn is certain of two things:
Someone she knows is about to die.
And she is powerless to stop it.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Advanced Bound Manuscript)

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...

- This one isn’t for review yet. It’s for blurb-making. I made up the term. :)
It sounds really interesting and I'm excited to read it!

The ones I've already reviewed:

Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway (signed ARC) Be warned. The review is slightly spoilerish.
I'm positive that I won this. I just can't remember where.

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills (signed ARC)

The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter (signed finished copy)

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge (ARC)


Hush Money by Susan Bischoff

Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got more complicated.

- This was provided to me through Smashwords by Susan - who was very nice!

Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other women in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn't want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist's attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn't going to go quietly.

Minder by Kate Kaynak

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn needs to learn how to use her special abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place. Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.But it's still better than New Jersey,especially once she meets the man of her dreams?

- This one if from Erika of Erika Breathes Books. Thank you! She’s celebrating her 6-months blogoversary right now with a giveaway.

Swag + more:

Tell Me a Secret Teaser, button, bookmark and magnet
The Snowball Effect bookmarks (signed)
Hunger Postcard + Button
Trance bookmark
Angel Star Silver Bookmark from the Clearwood Collection

Thanks to:

Hilari Bell, for making an exception.
Pendrell Publishing, for remembering.
Stephen Gashler, Tricia Mills, Holly Hoxter and Linda Gerber, for the chance.
Roaring Brook Press and Kathryn Hurley, for including me in their list.
Kiki Hamilton, for the awesome bound manuscript and for the kindness.
Susan Bischoff, for the prompt 'yes.'
Jackie Kessler, for the thoughtfulness.
Erika, for Minder, for the friendship and for the big help.
Holly Cupala, for the great contests.
'Til next time!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spotted: Adele Griffin + The Julian Game

A few days from now, The Julian Game (which I loved, adored, cherished with every page - ) will be released - another captivating story by Adele Griffin, National Book Award Finalist for Where I Want To Be. I'm fortunate to be given the chance to interview her here in Fragments of Life.

*photo credit to Rachel Hulin

What or who inspired you to write The Julian Game?

There’s a first draft of Julian kicking around that has no Julian in it at all. I was really invested in writing a “crazy friend on the edge” story. Then my editor thought we needed to give it some heft, and I myself had just joined Facebook, and was dealing with the whole “who am I for real versus who am I on Facebook” dilemma. So it just came together into the existing plot.

What message will readers pick up from your novel?

I think Julian is more of an identity-crisis book than a bully book. It’s so complicated to pick and choose who you are in a digital world. Message-wise, I think it’s about the push-and-pull of those choices.

Why did you choose to write for teens?

I like teens. I like that phase of life; it’s pitched up so high. Everything is raw, everything is critical. I lived my YA years on such an amped-up voltage. Writing for it reclaims it—though I do love being older. Far less pressure!

Was there a part of the novel that was patterned after a real-life experience of yours?

There’s a little bit of my “first love” in Julian. The so-called golden boy who wasn’t who I thought he was. The disillusion came from my broken nineteen-year-old heart, and those memories. Oh, the drama …

How do you want your readers to view Facebook?

I love Facebook, but it’s definitely not a substitute for getting out there, living your life, doing stuff like meeting up with your three dimensional friends for lunch. I think everyone gets that. Facebook connections are all at arms’ length.

Online-self vs. Real-self. How did you decide to present these two faces?

In my own life, there’s a lot of me online because books are personal—even fiction. And I really love to reach out to readers. So my online self is my real self as much as I can deliver it. The trick, I think, is to unplug. Shut down the computer and jump into the world. I have to keep a strict eye on my inner hermit, because she could take over the whole show.

Will there be a sequel?

No, sadly, I’m way to A.D.D.

What can readers expect from you?

My new website goes up Sept 15, (insert sound of kazoos). And a site for www.thejuliangame.com next week, I hope.

Any last words?

Goodreads! It’s my new addiction. If you’re on it, come find me!

Thanks Adele!

The Julian Game will be released on the 27th. Don't forget to grab a copy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

Book Description:

On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker's present winds up being the shock of a lifetime. When her mom referred to her absentee dad as a deadbeat it was actually half true -- he's a vampire. And a king, no less. A king who wants his daughter to assume her rightful position at his side. But, thanks to Ana's mother, the blood of a witch also runs through her veins....

Too bad vampires and witches are mortal enemies.

With her parents gearing up for an all out brawl over her destiny, Ana's about ready to scream. But things get even crazier when a male witch and a brooding bad boy vampire start vying for her affection. Then the barely leashed tension between the vampires and the witches starts to boil over, and Ana has to figure out once and for all if she wants to become heir to her dad's throne. And deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school.

Source: Won

My Thoughts:

When I picked up Almost to Die For, I expected a collision of two worlds: the vampire world and the witch world. But I didn’t expect these two worlds to exist in such a chaotic and intriguing mesh of magical bonds. The story world that Hallaway crafted was mesmerizingly charged with tension and hatred. The vampire mythology was magnificently tied with the witch mythology. Two well-known races of the supernatural world had their history as one filled with a deep hunger for power and for supremacy.

Ana was very likable. Her humor lightened up the story and opened a door to her mind, revealing her sentiments in a way that was very youthful. I found myself thinking of the same things that she thought of. A bit impulsive while maintaining a sense of logic, she discovered the world of her father and of Elias – a vampire sworn to protect her – and still found the time to date Nikolai, a hot True Witch vampire hunter.

The story revolved on the destiny of Ana. As a half-witch and a half-vampire, her destiny could be tied to either race. The only problem was that witches and vampires don’t exactly get along. In the midst of the tug-of-war between her dad and her mom, Ana learned that there was more to the story. Moreover, she has found out that the sinister reputation of the vampires could just be the product of a misinformation. The truth about her hybrid blood was unravelled with the help of her nerd-self and her blood-thirsty tendencies. In the end, she was neither witch nor vampire but both – a better creature with a stronger magic. I loved how Ana has come to realize who she really was and how she managed to use her knowledge and tested her theory about her identity.

Almost to Die For is the collision of vampire and witch mythology, a highly entertaining story with chockfull of humor, surprise, romance and a funny heroine.


Fast Forward Monday (24)

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

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

Release Date: September 14, 2010

Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. He is determined to keep Seldom House as his own. Though Tabby tries to befriend the uncouth urchin, her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Hush by Eishes Chayil
Release Date: September 14, 2010

Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe.

A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.

Jane by April Lindner
Release Date: October 11, 2010

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
Release Date: October 14, 2010

Whether it's a curse, or a blessing, or an ability, the fact remains: whenever Roger is injured or in enough pain he crosses over to the land of the dead. Once there, there are rules: only the newly dead will talk, for example, and nothing will raise the longer dead from their tranquillity.

There are rules in the land of the living as well; rules which would have Roger hanged for witchcraft if he was ever caught. But refusing to cross over isn't an option. His uncle depends on Roger to hide under the table in their fairground act, listen to the recently bereaved asking questions of their dear departed, and then cross over to find the answers. It's a hard way of life, made all the harder as his uncle's fists usually provide the trigger for Roger to cross over.

It's not the only way of life, though, and when Roger sees a chance to escape he fights for it - little knowing that love, loss, shocking revelations and, ultimately, war lie ahead of him.

Just because Roger can cross over into the land of the dead doesn't mean he wants to.

*Book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (9)

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.

Go to Crazy-for-Books and join the hop!

This week's question: How many blogs do you follow?

As of now, I follow 349 blogs. For me, it's important to connect with other bloggers and to have a wide range of reviews to read. I tend to buy books based on their covers. And to avoid that, I've started to base my decision on the reviews of these 349 bloggers. And...I just love reading reviews + interviews. It's a part of me.

Welcome to Fragments of Life! If you happen to drop by, please leave a comment so I can visit your blog too! Thank you!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

Book Description:

All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself and igniting Ella's rage. As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter. Adele Griffin's riveting novel explores the issues of generation Facebook: the desire to be someone else, real versus online friends, and the pitfalls and fallouts of posting your personal life online for all the world to judge.

Source: Adele Griffin (Thanks!)
My Thoughts:

Facebook, as well as other social networking sites, are bridges of communication that build and strengthen relationships. Falling for someone online proved to be a risky step. The consequences of nurturing infatuation and risking love were explored in this novel with bits of happiness, sadness and disappointment.

What started out as a simple prank turned out to be more disastrous than Raye could ever imagine. The accessibility of Facebook created an opportunity for online love – a virtual place where an illusion of the closeness exists while maintaining a distance factor that pulls away strain between individuals. There is no pressure of face-to-face conversations and no expectations aside from keeping an unserious and fun relationship.

Raye falls hard for Julian Kilgarry. Online, he seems to be her perfect match. In the beginning, the spark between them charges strongly, giving Raye the impression that she and Julian hit it off. As Ella’s rage escalates, Julian starts to become a stranger to Raye. The element of openness and trust were thoroughly investigated with chat moments and real-life interaction. The issue of online-self and real-self was considered with the level of openness and trueness of a person. In this case, Julian Kilgarry has a distinctly friendly online-self and has a preoccupied and peer-influenced real-life-self, with regards to his Mr. Nice Guy persona. As a people pleaser, he wants to be perfect for everyone or at least for the majority of the people around him such as the circle he belongs to. His shift from being the victim to the heartbreak kid in ways that are unpredictable and unavoidable was wonderfully done.

Raye has two faces too – as the vixen Elizabeth and as herself. The desire to please Ella and be lifted from her pitiful social standing as an outcast, a newbie and a nerd, puts her in a situation that is beneficial in the beginning and damaging in the end. She learns her lessons the hard and humiliating way.

Griffin creates well-developed characters with attention to detail and novelty. The compulsions of Ella Parker for one were very interesting and distinct. Every character added a certain flavor that spiced up the story. The plot was what I would call riveting. I found it hard to put the book down the moment I was sucked in.

The Julian Game is a youthfully careless and experimental story that presents questions regarding several issues that are present in the lives of teens – particularly the ones who belong to the Facebook generation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fast Forward Monday (23)

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

The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith

Release Date: November 2, 2010

Book Description:

Since losing both of her parents, fifteen-year-old Katie can see and talk to ghosts, which makes her a loner until fellow student Law sees her drawing of a historic house and together they seek a treasure rumored to be hidden there by illegal slave-traders.

Law Walker knew Katie Mullens before she was crazy. Before her mother died. Law knows Katie’s crazy now, but she’s always been talented. And she keeps filling sketch pads even though her drawings have gone a little crazy as well—dark, bloody. What Law doesn’t know is that these drawings are real. Or were real. Katie draws what she sees—and Katie sees dead people. People who have died—recently, and not so recently—in accidents, from suicide, even a boy who was trapped in a house that burned down more than 100 years ago. And it’s this boy who makes Law want to get to know Katie all over again. So what if his dad doesn’t want him dating a white girl? So what if people think Katie is dangerous? The ghost boy is hiding a secret that Law needs to know—and it’s much bigger, much more shocking than anyone ever expected.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Release Date: November 11, 2010

Book Description:

THE CHALLENGE: Piper has one month to get a paying gig for Dumb—the hottest new rock band in school.

THE DEAL: If she does it, she'll become manager of the band and get her share of the profits, which she desperately needs since her parents raided her college fund.

THE CATCH: Managing one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl who is ready to beat her up. And doing it all when she's deaf. With growing self-confidence, an unexpected romance, and a new understanding of her family's decision to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, Piper just may discover her own inner rock star.

The Painted Boy by Charles De Lint
Release Date: November 11, 2010

Book Description:

Jay Li should be in Chicago, finishing high school and working at his family's restaurant. Instead, as a born member of the Yellow Dragon Clan--part human, part dragon, like his grandmother--he is on a quest even he does not understand. His journey takes him to Santo del Vado Viejo in the Arizona desert, a town overrun by gangs, haunted by members of other animal clans, perfumed by delicious food, and set to the beat of Malo Malo, a barrio rock band whose female lead guitarist captures Jay's heart. He must face a series of dangerous, otherworldly--and very human--challenges to become the man, and dragon, he is meant to be. This is Charles de Lint at his best!

Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser
Release Date: November 28, 2010

Book Description:

Welcome to Glenfair, New Jersey’s Little Moscow, where fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar lives with her Russian-born, Jewish parents. In their culture, drinking is as traditional as blinchiki and piroshkis. So when her mom starts having bad days, it seems like Alyssa’s the only one who notices-or cares.

Alyssa would love to focus on regular stuff like her first kiss with Keith, her cute track team partner-or simply come home without dread of what she might find. But someone has to clean up her mom’s mess. Her dad is steeped in work, the evening news, and denial. Her best friend Lana is busy-shamelessly vying for a place with the popular crowd who ridicule their Russian heritage.

It’s up to Alyssa to save her mom-and her family. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom’s next fall off the wagon drags her down, too?

*Book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: Winter Longing by Tricia Mills

Book Description via Goodreads:

A plane crash in Alaska takes
Winter’s first love away forever . . .

When Winter's boyfriend is killed in a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, she's robbed of the future she'd only just allowed herself to believe might be hers. Winter and Spencer had been destined for one another. And after his death, Spencer's presence continues to haunt her.

But when her next-door neighbor becomes an unlikely friend, Winter begins to accept all that she can't change. Can she open herself to a new future . . . and a possible new love?

Source: Tricia Mills (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

Imagine loving someone for as long as you can remember and having the pleasure of knowing that you have his heart. Imagine that high level of bliss that you’re in – that phase of ecstasy that leaves you drunk with total happiness - only to be harshly pulled out of it with the news of your love’s accident the next day. That is exactly what Winter experienced.

Mills presented the sweetness of young love, laced the bitterness of a shattered dream, showed a hazy future, and explored a broken heart. The race of two strong emotions: guilt and love coincide in this story of mourning and falling. Winter is holding onto the memory of Spencer and at the same time she is confused about the unexpected concern in her neighbor, Jesse. When a simple neighbor-to-neighbor relationship becomes something much more complicated and charged with attraction, Winter finds both a disloyal issue and a chance to move on.

The unexpected death of Spencer brings to life a heavy loss that freezes the present and drags miserably forward. The personal dramas of the characters are revealed one by one, increasing and decreasing the tension at the same time. However, despite the supposed intensity of the death and the loss and the pain, it seemed to lack in a way. I was not able to connect with Winter as much as I wanted to.

The little flashbacks produced by the quotes that come up every chapter give glimpses into a time of suppressed feelings. I wish they revealed more of Spencer. It was hard for me to visualize this guy who spelled perfection in Winter’s eyes. His absence did not have a strong effect on me, as to draw heartbreaking reactions from me.

Winter Longing is a light read despite the fact that it deals with such a tragic and melancholy experience. Fans of bittersweet tales and young love will adore this.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interview with Janni Lee Simner + Giveaway of Thief Eyes (3 Copies)

Hi guys! Today I have a special guest, Janni Lee Simner, the author of Bones of Faerie and Thief Eyes.

What part of being a writer do you love the most?

I love the writing process--the joy of discovery in early drafts, the joy of focusing the prose and language of later drafts. Like all writers I have good days and bad days, but I love the overall process that turns a glimmer of an idea into a completed story.

What part of being a writer do you hate the most?

One of the harder parts of writing can sometimes be the waiting, because every part of the process takes time: writing a book, selling it, revising it, the production cycle--there are good reasons all these things take the time they do, and I understand it, but as a writer I did have to learn to be patient!

As a writer, how do you stay inspired?

By writing, in large part, because the whole process of writing is inspiring to me.

But also by making time for not-writing. Because if I'm always writing, and never making time for other things, it's easy to burn out--my whole world becomes about the writing and nothing else. Doing volunteer work, having hobbies that I'm not trying to do professionally--both these things inspire me and fuel my writing in turn.

Have you ever experienced writer's block? How do you deal with it?

I haven't experienced writer's block, but I have experienced burnout. (Though I suspect they may be the same thing--if so, perhaps using the term "writers block" instead of "burnout" gives unnecessary power to what's actually a fairly ordinary thing that people in all professions suffer from.) When I do suffer from burnout, I find it best to step away for a time--to get out a little. distract myself, and get some perspective. When I feel like I'm burning out I also check in to make sure I'm taking care of myself physically--getting enough sleep, getting some physical activity in, eating decently, staying hydrated--all things that can effect how much energy I have for writing (and everything else).

How does your mood affect your writing?

I sometimes feel it's more like my writing affects my mood. A bad writing day can leave me feeling a little tired and down, while a good one can leave me feeling wired and bouncy. Though this is another place where having interests outside of writing has been important to me, because if my writing was the only thing affecting my moods, they'd swing back and forth pretty wildly--because all writers have good and bad days!

Who or what inspired you to write Thief Eyes? How?

Visiting Iceland inspired me to write Thief Eyes.

And the Icelandic sagas, thousand year old stories about Iceland's earliest settlers, inspired me to write Thief Eyes.

I was only dimly aware of the Icelandic sagas when I first went to Iceland, but I brought a copy of Njal's Saga with me. By the end of the first page, I was hooked. That's where the story introduces Hallgerd, a woman whose uncle declares--while she's still a child--that she has "the eyes of a thief." Hallgerd is still remembered for having refused her third husband, Gunnar, two locks of her hair to restring his bow with in battle.

After I met Hallgerd, I kept wondering just what it meant to have the eyes of a thief as I kept reading. Then, one day while I was in Iceland, I found myself at Thingvellir, the original site of Iceland's thousand-year-old parliament. Thingvellir is located in a rift valley where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, and you can see the cracks in the earth beneath your feet where the land is pulling apart--it's very much a place of power. Countless saga battles and confrontation took place at Thingvellir, and it's also the place where Hallgerd and Gunnar met. (The characters in the sagas are mostly real, though no one is sure how much of their stories are fact and how much historical fiction.)

And it hit me, as I walked through Thingvellir, wind blowing around me, that a thousand years ago the characters I was reading about had walked the same ground I was walking now. That was a shivery moment, one where I could feel the past breathing over my shoulder.

That's when I heard a voice whisper in my head, low and full of rage, "I will not allow it."

Later, when I was safely back home, I would wonder where that voice came from and whether it was real. Just then, I did what any writer would do upon hearing a voice in her head. I sat down, and I wrote down the words--Hallgerd's words.

Five years and a second visit to Iceland later, those words and the ones that followed them became the opening of Thief Eyes.

What lessons will readers pick up from Thief Eyes? What message did you want to put in the minds of readers?

I don't think I had any specific messages in mind when I wrote Thief Eyes­. I tend to focus on telling a story, and so usually even I'm not entirely sure what that story is about until I've finished writing it. Looking back at it I do think there are themes about forgiveness and communication and grief and time there, but I'm just one reader, and others might take entirely different meanings away from the book. They would be as right about the meanings they find as I am, because once a book is released into the world, I think what it's about is about the reader and the story, not the reader and the author.

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

There's this one scene toward the end--it's hard to talk about it without spoilers, but it has to do with how Haley breaks free from the fire magic within her--that was especially hard to write because it was so emotionally intense to me. Each time I revised it, it became a little more painful to read.

I've learned, though, that when I have a scene I want to flinch away from like that, often that scene is exactly what's needed to be true to the story--and that was very much the case there.

Which part is more fun to write – beginning, middle or end? Why?

I love writing beginnings, with their sense of possibilities unfolding, and often my books begin with an opening that makes me want to dive in and know the rest of the story--this was true for the openings of both Thief Eyes and Bones of Faerie. Middles and endings are harder for me. I tend to rewrite my endings especially more than any other part of the book. But I love that sort of "click" I feel inside when I finally get an ending to land just where it needs to. So endings are fun, too--it's just a sort of fun that involves a lot more work.

Can you tell us about Haley's personality?

I think of Haley, at the start of the book, as someone who's just trying to hang on and make it through each day, though I'm not sure she'd think of herself that way. But a year ago, when her mother disappeared, her world fell apart, and she's been in survival mode ever since. Even so, she remains passionate about her interests: running, wildlife biology, and her boyfriend back home, Jared, who helped her cope during the long year her mother was gone. Though her thoughts about Jared become more complicated and troubled once she travels to Iceland and meets Ari, an Icelandic boy she feels just as drawn to.

How is the element of close or potential danger, in the form of Ari, essential to the story?

What's intriguing to me is that Ari takes on a dangerous form, yet as Haley observes him and thinks things through, she uses her judgment and decides he might not be as dangerous as he looks, though she remains cautious at first. But the real dangers of the story ultimately take other forms--spells cast, bargains made, promises broken. I think maybe Ari's presence brings out the fact that danger isn't ultimately about the shapes we wear, but about the actions we take and are responsible for--about how we and those around us use our power.

What is Ari and Haley's relationship like?

I think it's still evolving--they haven't known each other very long, after all. They do know that they care about each other, respect each other, and have good chemistry together--and they've been thrown into an intense situation, so they learn to trust and rely on each another very quickly. But in spite of all that intensity, they're still in the process of getting to know one another.

What tips can you give to aspiring writers?

Don't be afraid of writing messy rough drafts, if that's your process. A story doesn't have to be perfect right away--there's time enough to revise later. It usually takes me five drafts to get from an idea to a finished story, and the first draft often bears little resemblance to the final one.

Whatever writing process works best for you, don't worry if it seems different from everyone else's. Try everything, and stick to what works best for you. There's no one correct way to write. Every writer works a little--or a lot--differently--and that's not only okay, but as it should be!

Thanks Janni!

Book Description via Goodreads:

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Janni Lee Simner brings the fierce romance and violent passions of Iceland's medieval sagas into this twenty-first-century novel, with spellbinding results.


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US Residents only (Sorry! But the publisher will be the one mailing the books.)

Ends on September 10, 2010.

*Thanks to Random House, Janni and Meg for this giveaway.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Fast Forward Monday (22)

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

Banished by Sophie Littlefield

Release Date: October 12, 2010

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell can’t wait for the day she’ll leave Gypsum, Missouri, far behind, taking only four-year-old Chub, the developmentally-delayed little boy her cruel drug-dealing grandmother fosters for the state money. But when a freak accident in gym class leaves a girl in critical condition, Hailey feels drawn to lay her hands on the injured girl and an astonishing healing takes place. Before Hailey can understand her new powers, a beautiful stranger shows up…just in time to save her and Chub from hired killers. A desperate race begins, with Hailey as the ultimate prize: there are those who will stop at nothing to harness her gifts to create an undefeatable army of the undead. Now it is up to Hailey and a small but determined family of healers to stand up to the unbelievable and face the unthinkable.

Elixir by Hilary Duff
Release Date: October 12, 2010

Book Description:

As the daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington D.C. politician, Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. And though she dreads the paparazzi who track her every move, she herself is a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world.

But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful young man begin to appear in Clea’s photos—a man she has never seen in her life.

When Clea suddenly encounters this man in person she is stunned—and feels an immediate and powerful connection. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance and discover the centuries-old truth behind their intense bond.

Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fate, together they race against time to unravel their past in order to save their future—and their lives.

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: October 12, 2010

Book Description:

A story about getting into college. You know, taking the campus tour, talking to the gargoyles, flirting with the were-tigers, riding the dragons...

While visiting the campus of Princeton University, 16-year-old Lily discovers a secret gate to a magical realm and must race against time to save herself, her world, and any hope she has of college admission.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan
Release Date: October 26, 2010

Book Description:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

*Book descriptions taken from Goodreads.