Oct 31, 2010

Audio Review - Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

From the Publisher:
Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

By Laurie Halse Anderson; Mandy Siegfried (Read by)
(Listening Library (Audio), Compact Disc, 9780739336724)

I have owned Speak for a long time, but decided to pick up the audio version at the library. 

I just can't believe this is Anderson's first novel. Only one word comes to mind...masterpiece! Melinda is a freshman in high school, and attends a party where things go horribly wrong. For much of the book, we are not sure of the details of that fateful night. All we know is that after that night, Melinda's life begins to fall apart. She looses all of her friends (they aren't too happy she called the cops and busted up the party), her grades plummet, and she falls silent. Silent to everyone. Speak reads like a memoir to me. I believe every. Single. Word. All of it. There wasn't one question in my mind that the fictional life of Melinda is the real life of countless young women across the world. 

Mandy Siegfried was a fantastic reader. Her voice was young, fresh, and a perfect choice. This book has a place in every single library with teens and young adults. I can't imagine how many girls have read Speak and said, "Oh my God, I am Melinda." 

5 out of 5 stars

Oct 29, 2010

Review - Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

I spoke about Halo in a quickie review post a while back. Today, I have my full review. Hold on to your suspenders kids...

From the Publisher:
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.

First off, props to Adronetto for being so young and getting a book published. She's 18! When I was 18 I couldn't figure out what pairs of jeans to wear to the movies. Good for her... I think this book has good bones, but there were SO many things that went wrong that it basically ruined the story for me. Overall....too long! Why, oh why, do we need to hear half of this stuff going on with external and expendable characters. We read about the most nonsensical things that totally distract the reader. This happens too often for me. Around page 300 is where the conflict starts to happen. Yes, page 300.

The main issue I have with this book is the character Bethany. Some people call it the "Bella Syndrome" and I couldn't agree more. Bethany is an angel with zero self control, zero self esteem, and just as pathetic as Bella.  She's an angel sent from Heaven, and the first time a cute boy (Xavier) walks by, she tosses everything out the window, and basically aborts her mission from God. (huh?) I would have bought the romance between Bethany and a human if it wasn't so forced. Bethany is desperate, pitiful and useless. She even gets drunk the first time she steps out of the house along. Harsh I know...

Bethany's BFF, Molly, and her constant pining for Gabriel (yes, that angel) was over the top. When we weren't reading about Bethany's love for Xavier we were reading about Molly's scheme to win over Gabriel. Ugh! It was hinted that Molly thought she knew Gabriel before they met. Are we being set up for book 2? Every time Molly comes up with another scenario to get Gabriel's attention, Bethany puts in little attempt to sway her friend. Hello (knocks on door) is anyone buying this? I was always asking....what in the world do Molly and Bethany have in common? Why would they ever be friends? Just another premise I didn't buy. 

I like that Adornetto explains the hierarchy of angels and their divine purpose. I would have read more about this. What was Bethany's divine purpose? She couldn't focus on anything but Xavier for 5 minutes for us to find out. Cover art - amazing! 

I think a lot of teens will read this book, and for that, yay! It's a large book and if a teen can get through it, I hope they move on to better reads.  

Nutshell: read first 50 pages then skip to 300. You won't miss a thing. I will be giving this book away in the near future...

1 out of 5 stars

Oct 28, 2010

The Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books and runs from Friday to Sunday. The Hop is a fantastic way to get your blog noticed, and visit some other blogs that you didn't know about before. Head over and sign up and see what you can find!

Each week a different question will be added to the hop in order for conversations to occur, and for your followers to get to know you better. Here we go!

"What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"

One thing? I can't narrow it down to just one. So here goes. SIGNED, first edition, UK version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I have the paperback version (aunt lives in England). SIGNED, first edition, of The Giver by Lois Lowry, and this book shelf to put them on.

Follow Friday is hosted by the lovely Rachel at Parajunkee's View. Here is her question:

If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read? 

I have two daughters (14 and 12), and lucky for me, they are both pretty good readers. My oldest is a historical fiction reader, and my younger daughter reads manga and anything Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson author) has touched. Picking one book is hard - Crank by Ellen Hopkins (drugs are bad), and the Bible are a must. Crank tells the story of how a few bad choices can literally ruin your life. Heartbreaking story. Of course we have all heard of the Bible. No matter your religion or upbringing, the Bible is the most influential book in the world. Period. I am not a religious person, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to at least get the basics down. 

I would love to hear your answers. Leave me a comment with your link and I'll find you. 

Enter the Beautiful Creatures Swag Giveaway! SIGNED book plate. Contest ends Monday, November 1. 

Enter the The Marbury Lens Giveaway! HARDCOVER b4 pub date. Contest ends Sunday, November 7. 

Happy Reading! 

Cover Reveal - Summer and the City (The Carrie Diaries)

Book two in the Carrie Diaries series by the wildly popular author Candace Bushnell. I can not find a description of the title on Harper Teen or Candace's website. Here is all we know (from People.com):

There's no guarantee there will be a third Sex and the City movie, but in the meantime there will be a way to fill the Carrie Bradshaw void – SATC creator Candace Bushnell's latest book hits shelves in April. 

Summer and the City, a teen prequel to the popular franchise, is the second in a series of books leading up to the Sex and the City years. 

In the new book, the publisher reveals, readers will follow Carrie as "she learns to navigate the Big Apple." During this "summer of firsts," Carrie will begin her love affair with New York City, make lifelong friends, and meet some fascinating guys that populated her early life.

The publisher promises that with the latest installment, which will be released by Harper Collins on April 26, 2011, "The party is about to begin." 

Amazon does not have this book listed yet, but Good Reads does.

You can visit Candace Bushnell HERE

Happy Reading!

Sweetly Cover Reveal (Sisters Red)

Coming June 7, 2011 from Little, Brown

Companion to Sisters Read:

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

Holy LOVE! Dark, twisted, purple...who wouldn't love it! Hope they have ARCs at TLA in April. Jackson says she will be giving them away in January. Woot!

Check out Jackson Pearce HERE

Pre-order Sweetly HERE

Review - Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

"Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you...no one." Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face. It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste. Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust. I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode. But Justin was...daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream. I never expected to be sixteen again...then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...

*Spoiler Alert*
I must be burned out on the whole vampire thing. I liked the idea that a vampire can turn human again. That's new, interesting. A lot of things went right with this book, but some, not so much. I had trouble with several scenes due to contradictory ideas or events. One minute Lenah grabs a jug of blood and drinks hungrily. Two sentences later, "..why am I so full from 3 sips?" Huh? There were several of those type of errors. (I seem to always catch those...even in movies)

I like Lenah, I love Tony, I love*ish Rhode, I sort of like Jason. Why oh why does the main character fall in love with the FIRST person that seems attractive? I know Lenah didn't fall for Tony (1st person she meets), but she sees one cute boy and it's off to the races. When Lenah was a vampire she fell in love with Vicken the second they met. I just don't understand this in YA books. I digress.... One other problem I had was that Lenah "forgot" about Nuit Rouge (The time where she was "supposed" to rise from the ground) when she went to Jason's parents house. So, a vampire who celebrated this event every year for 500 years suddenly forgets the date? No way! 

Good things: I liked the explanation of the rituals, the workings of vampires (lack of tears - sunlight), and character development. I wish Tony didn't exit and come back so late, but I enjoyed his character. I liked how Lenah used her smarts to outwit the school staff. Funny! I think a lot of teen girls will pick up this book because of the cover, and I don't think they will be disappointed. I'll stay tuned....

3.5 out of 5 stars!

Here is a look at the UK cover: 

Stolen Nights - 2011

Infinite Days.... Rebecca's website HERE

Happy Reading!

Review - Firelight by Sophie Jordon

...finally getting my full review up!

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret. 

**spoiler alert** I don't think I've read anything in the last 10 years with a dragon as a main character. Sratch that...draki. I wasn't too sure what to think at first, but like many of us, the cover art reeled me in. What's up with all the crazy beautiful red-head covers in YA? In the end, I read in less than a day. 

Jacinda and her family are descendants of dragons. Afer a little flying stunt in the village that would result in a severe punishment by the elders, Jacinda's mother flees with her two daughter's in the middle of the night. Jacinda's mother feels it is best that Jacinda let her draki die and she live a life like a normal teenager. Insert conflict. Of course, Jacinda doesn't want this, and she feels like her mother isn't telling her the whole story of why they fled the village. Jacinda's twin sister Tamra wants nothing more than to be a regular teenager. (I won't tell you why) 

During Jacinda's little flying adventure with her BFF Az (event that led to her fleeing village), she meets a boy who is with a pack of hunters. Actually, the boy and his group are hunting Jacinda and her friend. The "encounter" is short-lived and rather touching. Of course, the boy turns up later in the story. We expect it and we want it to happen. Jacinda and this boy have a connection that the two of them don't understand. He keeps Jacinda's draki alive in the dry desert, and the boy is drawn to Jacinda for reasons we don't understand (until the end). 

Characters are developed - we feel for each one. Tamra, the sister who wants to be a normal teen. The mother who wants to keep her children safe. Jacinda who wants to be who she really is, a draki. The plot has a beginning, middle and end. (you know sometimes books don't have those) The story flows naturally and with a purpose, but there are a few surprises for us. I only have one itsy-bitsy-tiny complaint. Not even a complaint really. The term "Indian-style" was used when Jacinda needed to sit down. Eeeeek in my book, but easily forgivable! 

5 stars!

Banished (Firelight 2), Jacinda will spend 1/2 of the time back at the pride where she has trouble getting along with Cassian's sister. Cassian's sister is a Visio Crypter - she can blend into her surrounding like a chameleon. In a sense, she is invisible. She's also a big brat!

If anyone would like a bookmark and/or sticker....I have some for you (thx to Sophie). Comment with your email below. 

Happy Reading!

Audio Review - TH1RTEEN R3EASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice explains that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

I listened to TH1RTEEN R3EASONS WHY with my teenage daughter on a (very) long car trip to Oklahoma. I knew the subject would be sensitive, but I have heard so many wonderful things about this book that there was no way I could pass it up.

I loved having the voice of Clay and Hannah spoken aloud. It is easy to get lost or turned around in a book with dual perspectives. Hearing two distinct voices helps keep the story straight - especially for a young reader.  The faint whispers from Clay into Hannah's scenes gave me the chilly-bumps. Clay would quietly ask Hannah questions. He would plead and apologize. Those scenes, where Clay had a hushed voice, were the most touching part of the story.  I think if I read the book I would have missed some of the emotion.

They story itself is an important one. Suicide. It is a sensitive subject, but one that can not be ignored. This was a great opportunity for me to speak with my daughter about the importance of a community and the roles people play. We all teach our children "Sticks & Stones," but hurtful words carry weight. They settle to the bottom of your heart and can lay there for a lifetime. I think every teenager should hear Hannah's story. Better yet, read with your child and have a conversation!

Blurb from Ellen Hopkins: Every once in awhile you come across a book that you can't get out of your mind, one you have to rush back to if you must put it down for some reason. Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those books, and is at the very top of my personal "Must-Read" list.

If you know anyone who has talked (or even joked) about committing suicide - DON'T ignore them. Ask for help!

Happy Reading! 

Shimmer Cover Reveal - Book 2 in the The Immortals

Shimmer is book two in the THE IMMORTALS spin-off series. In stores March 15, 2011! So pretty! What do you guys think?

Visit Alyson at her blog HERE.

PS, NIGHT STAR will be released November 16th.....3 weeks!

Happy Reading!

Oct 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

US Version

After reading Misguided Angel, I am so excited for Bloody Valentine! This is number six in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz. This cover is crazy gorgeous! Release date is set for December 28, 2010. This is what Melissa told EW magazine about the new book:

What else do you have coming up?
Wolf Pact is the next one I’ve been working on, it’s a spin off and due for next year. We’re going to have another Blue Bloods book called Bloody Valentine, it will actually detail Allegra and Stephen’s, Schuyler’s human father’s, love story. I was going to put that in Misguided Angel but it got too complicated; I had so many plots and had to move one out.

UK Version

My review of Misguided Angel can be found HERE.

Happy Reading!

Oct 26, 2010

The Marbury Lens Giveaway - Interview with Andrew Smith

I stumbled upon The Marbury Lens at TLA (TX Library Association) in San Antonio this past April. It was my first library conference and I was overwhelmed with the amount of books I was receiving. At the end of two days I had almost 50 titles. Even though I was grateful for all the wonderful reads (still am), I was beginning to wonder if I was getting books that I would love. I took matters into my own hands. I walked up to the nearest publisher's booth and said, "I need a young adult book that is going to freak me out." Without hesitating, the representative smiled and said, "I have the perfect book." The lady wore a crooked smile and handed me The Marbury Lens. Just by looking at the cover art, I was hooked. I scored 94 books at TLA and The Marbury Lens was the FIRST book I read from my loot. Let's take a look at The Marbury Lens and meet author Andrew Smith.

From the Publisher: 
Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

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

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.

Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

But it’s not.

Welcome Andrew!

Marbury Lens was created, in part, due to an experience you had as a young man. How much of Jack's story is really your story?

I can't help but write my own experiences into all my novels. I really don't think I could just make stuff up. Well, I could, but it wouldn't feel real to me. And I guess that's the big switch for me: I'll put down a novel if it doesn't feel real within the first 50 pages or so. And I don't mean "real" like it can't be historical or speculative or anything else. If that makes any sense. Have I successfully skirted that first question?

There is a wide variety of male relationships in Marbury Lens. Are any of these based on real relations?

Oh, I definitely had friends like Conner when I was a teenager. Over-the-top, unabashed kinds of kids that made you feel simultaneously protected and about to leap off a cliff. And the concept of brotherhood (like Ben and Griffin, for example) is something I explore recurring times in my books. I only have brothers in my family. The relationship between Ben and Griffin is much different than the brothers' relationship in In the Path of Falling Objects and Stick (which will be coming out next year). Both of those books have elements that were present in the way my brothers and I lived and got along with each other.

Jack and his best friend Conner go through some pretty harrowing times. Did you know their fate from the very beginning?

The short answer is yes. I write my books in my head, just thinking them out, for many months before I start putting the words down. I always know the big picture -- where the story will take my characters -- before I begin writing it. Sometimes, I like to fool myself into thinking there could be another resolution, but they always come back to where I'd imagined ahead of time.

Marbury Lens has explicitly violent scenes. How do you feel about those readers who think this story belongs in the hands of adults and not young adults?

The novel DOES belong in the hands of adults. But, there is no sub-group that should ever be excluded from reading it or any other novel, if that's what you're suggesting. It's hard for me to put a definite age rating on this novel. I'd say it's for 16 and above. But I've gotten a lot of mail from readers as young as 13 who've really loved the book, and who received the book from an adult who passed it along after reading it.

The cover art for ARC of Marbury Lens is amazing. How much influence did you have on the cover and is this also the hardcover art?

As you can see, the cover art for the hardcover is even more photographic, less high-contrast (it looks even better). Yes, the art is amazing, and the artist responsible -- Rich Deas, the creative director at Feiwel and Friends -- is an incredible talent. That said, I like to think that the influence I had on the cover was that I wrote a book that stuck inside and energized Rich's mind enough that he came up with this concept and couldn't help himself. And, actually, unlike other covers in the past, I never saw any concepts or drafts of the MARBURY cover along the way. One day, the cover simply appeared in my in-box. I think Rich worked on it in secret or something. But, like everyone who ever sees this cover, I was totally blown away by it. In fact, it's the only cover art that I actually had enlarged and framed. It's hanging in my living room, creepily enough.

Where did the idea of the toy wooden horse come from?

Without throwing in a spoiler here -- I couldn't stop it. One day, I started writing this novel -- an entirely separate novel about Seth (an important character in The Marbury Lens). I liked Seth and his story so much -- and I have this obsession with the time period and locale of his story -- it just felt natural to take his story and wrap it up inside of Jack's, which is also a recurring image in The Marbury Lens, the concept of things hidden inside of other things. So, the wooden horse (another brilliant artistic touch from Rich Deas) on the book's title page and on the inside jacket, is a kind of hidden message about something that happens near the end of the book.

After reading others reviews, I noticed that regardless of the ratings, people couldn't put the book down. Sounds like what people say about Stephen King. Thoughts?

I am very flattered by the comparison to Stephen King. I feel like the book is very visceral -- it makes you feel wiped out, drugged, alone, hung-over, nauseous, angry, sweaty, thirsty, scared -- but it sucks you in. It definitely had that effect (but much worse) on me when I was writing it. And yes, one thing I keep hearing, over and over, is how people read the book non-stop, how it messes with their personal lives because they can't look away from it -- just like what happens to Jack in Marbury, I guess. No matter what people think about the book -- whether they "get it" or not -- that is exactly what I wanted to do with this project. I wanted it to be something more than a reading experience. I wanted it to mess with people, like the Marbury lens messes with Jack.

You live in a rural area. How does that affect your writing?

I don't like noise and light. I love where I live. I raise horses, there's a lake out front, we can see every star in the sky at night, and we're 20 miles from the nearest traffic light or grocery store. It's a perfect place for me to write.

Anything you would like to share about your next project?

In 2011, Feiwel & Friends will be releasing my next novel, Stick. I'm very proud of this novel. It's beautiful, and I love it, and unlike my other "excavations into darkness" (that's a quote from Booklist's starred review of The Marbury Lens), this is a novel that is framed with a great sense of hope. I won't say that Stick doesn't have some pretty dark moments and face some difficult issues, though. Stick is a kind of post-modernist journey about a kid who is surrounded by the most awful ugliness you can imagine, but he still sees and hears the world with this tremendous sense of wonder and amazement. Also, the novel is written in a very "experimental" structure -- that's all I'll say without giving away any details about the plot or the structure. But I do really love this book, and working on it (we just finished the revision process a few weeks ago) was a refreshing break from Marbury. I recently whined to my editor that it feels like I've been stuck in Marbury for two years.

The year is 2020, what are you doing?

Ten years from now? Given my rate of production, I would probably be working on the edits for my fifteenth novel, with another seven or eight in the can and waiting to come out. I've been doing some script writing lately. I kind of like it. I'm not trying to offend anyone, but writing scripts feels like it only uses about one-third of the brain space that writing novels requires, so I may try my hand at cranking out a couple scripts here and there. Keep in mind that I never set out writing anything with the intent that "I will get this published." I just write. When I finish, then I decide what to do with it. Unlike most writers I know, I never get "hired" to do stuff that isn't already finished. I finish things first, then I put them away, or I send them to my agent or editor.

Lastly, know of any tour stops.....Texas?

The only thing I know about right now: Opening week for Marbury, I'll be going to Mrs. Nelson's Bookshop in La Verne, California on November 11, and then flying up to San Francisco the next morning for an appearance at A Great Good Place for Books, in Oakland, on November 12. I would LOVE to come to Texas, though. There are so many great librarians, schools, and students there who have really supported my books and are such enthusiastic readers of my stuff. Plus, I understand they have good food in Texas, too.

You can pre-order Marbury Lens now through Amazon & Barnes & Noble.
Please visit Andrew at his BLOG

Good news time:

Andrew has been gracious enough to give me a SIGNED, brand spankin' new HARDCOVER copy of The Marbury Lens to giveaway to one lucky reader! *bows to Andrew*
Here are the details:

Contest is for US addresses only
Must be a follower
Contest ends at midnight - November 7th CST
Winner will be chosen using Random.org
Must fill out form below to be officially entered
Good luck!

*Giveaway closed*

Beautiful Darkness Review *No Spoilers

5 out of 5 stars!

FINALLY, a book that lives up to the hype! After reading Beautiful Creatures, I never doubted the talents of Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl. (One of my favorite books!) I knew they wouldn't let us down with Beautiful Darkness, and they haven't. Beautiful Darkness is complicated, romantic, magical, and worth every penny.

We pick up right where BC left off. Lena used The Book of Moons to bring back Ethan who was murdered by Sarafine, her mother, on Lena's Sixteenth Moon. The Book always takes something in return, a sacrifice, and it chose Macon. The beginning is tough to read. Lena is in a very dark place after losing her Uncle Macon. Not even the yummy Ethan Wate can snap her out of despair. Ethan tries his hardest to reach out to Lena and try to solve the mysteries around Lena's Seventeenth Moon, but she is so wrapped up in her sorrow. She retreats within herself, and Lena and Ethan's relationship suffers.

We meet a few new characters in BD. Olivia (Liv) arrives in Gatlin to work alongside Marian in the library. We soon find out her job duties go beyond shelving books. John is also a new character. There is a giant cloud of mystery surrounding him, and I would hate to spoil his role in the book for anyone. The "Bad Boy" image would be an understatement for him. Ethan's best friend Link, and Lena's Dark Caster Riley, also have big roles in BD. I heart Link, and it's nice to know that Riley doesn't get away with everything - even though she is a Siren. Lots of changes with these two!

We get to delve deeper into the tunnels and travel out of Gatlin. More secrets from the past shake things up, and some mysteries are resolved. Ethan learns why he can speak to Lena in his mind, and we learn much more about his mother and her role in the great Order of Things. A few people turn up in the oddest of places, and unlikely relationships form along the way.

No spoilers from me....it is so worth reading for yourself!

Everything goes so darn well with this book - plot, setting, characters, conflict, resolution... I have zero complaints. It all blends together fluidly as if Amma herself came up with the recipe for this books success.  

Don't forget to enter the Beautiful Creatures Swag Giveaway! Contest ends Monday, November 1.

Happy Reading!

Oct 25, 2010

Must Have Monday

It's been a few weeks since I've posted a Must Have Monday. These are things that I have stumbled upon over the interwebs, and would love to own. Feel free to buy them for me. ;) Descriptions are links to sellers. 

Don't forget to enter the Beautiful Darkness Giveaway

Happy Reading! 

Oct 24, 2010

Beautiful Darkness Swag Giveaway!

*This contest has ended*

As promised, here is the Beautiful Darkness Swag Giveaway! I would have loved to buy additional copies to giveaway, but with the Austin Teen Book Festival, and the TX Book Festival, it just wasn't possible. So, next best option - swag and a signed bookplate from two awesome authors!

Here's the loot: Dog-tag necklace, button, key chain, 2 bracelets, and a personally signed Gatlin County Public Library Bookplate. 

This contest is INTERNATIONAL
Must be a follower - promise it won't hurt.
Comments are appreciated, but fill out the FORM below to be entered.

Good luck and happy reading!

Oct 23, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi (The Story Siren), and was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

I had a great week! Texas Book Festival, an author visit, and the Beautiful Darkness tour. Whew! Hope you see something that inspires you to read. I apologize for the lack of picture. Long story short.....they are all put away. ;)

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (signed during blog tour)
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (signed at TX Book Festival)
Feed by M.T. Anderson (signed at TX Book Festival)
Scumble by Ingrid Law (signed during school visit)
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle (signed at TX Book Festival)

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill. S. Alexander (given by librarian for my volunteer service)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire
Clockwork Angel poster (signed)
The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna (signed)

Previously Owned & Now Signed:
Speak by  Laurie Halse Anderson (signed at TX Book Festival)
Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi (signed by both - Smart Chicks Tour & TX Book Festival)
Savvy by Ingrid Law (signed during school visit)

#ATxTBF Signed Swag Winner!

Congratulations goes to....


An email has been sent, and you have 72 hrs to respond. Enjoy your goodies, and thank you for entering! Didn't win? New giveaway coming soon! 

Happy Reading!

Oct 22, 2010

The Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books and runs from Friday to Sunday. The Hop is a fantastic way to get your blog noticed, and visit some other blogs that you didn't know about before. Head over and sign up and see what you can find!

Each week a different question will be added to the hop in order for conversations to occur, and for your followers to get to know you better. Here we go!

"Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

First off, I read EVERYWHERE! In the car, at my daughter's games (during timeouts and halftime),  in a movie theater (before the teasers come on), in bed, etc.... I think you get my point. But, my favorite place to read is right before I go to bed. In fact, I can't sleep until I read.

"What book are you currently reading?

I usually read one book while listening to a book on CD in the car. I drive around town a lot....too much! I can get through 1 audio book a week (around 6 hrs or so), and I read a book every few days. Today, I am listening to Numbers by Rachel Ward. The actress has a British accent....I am loving it. I am reading Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. How much do we love this series? Ugh, so brilliant! If you want to read my funny post about being the Swag Hag on the BD tour go HERE. Good times! 

Feel free to browse the site. I would love if you followed. I have a signed SWAG GIVEAWAY from the Austin Teen Book Festival if you would like to enter. Contest ends today, Friday, October 22nd. There will be a BD giveaway next week.

Happy Reading! 

Oct 21, 2010

Demonglass Cover Reveal (Hex Hall)

WOWOWOWOW are my thoughts. She looks BA in black! What do you all think??

Check out Rachel Hawkins on her blog! We have the same blog and I didn't know it until today!

~Happy Reading!

Misguided Angel Review

From Publisher:
After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the five remaining gates that guard the earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods. 

Back in New York, Mimi has been elected Regent of a crumbling coven. Struggling with her heartache over the loss of Kingsley and with her overwhelming desire to destroy Jack, she must focus all of her energy on a perilous new threat. Vampires are being abducted and their captors are planning to burn them alive online…for all the world to see. Help arrives in the form of Deming Chen, a Venator from Shanghai, who must untangle the web of deceptions before the killers strike again. 

As the young vampires struggle for the survival of the coven, they uncover a deadly secret, a truth first discovered by Schuyler’s mother during the Renaissance but kept buried for centuries. And as the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler to a terrible choice that will ultimately map the destiny of her heart.

*NO spoilers. I scored this book at the Austin Teen Book Festival a few weeks ago where I was (insert brag) lucky enough to moderate the Dastardly Daydreamer panel. If you want to hear about that awesome day, go HERE. Let me preface by saying that I have stuck with the Blue Blood series from the get go. I think it is one of only a few series that I have continued reading all the way through. Usually by book 4 or 5.....I loose interest. Not in this case! I love the characters, and I feel like I can't let them down by not finishing their story. I was roped in by the concept of angels and vampires from the very beginning. Brilliant!  

So, let's talk about Misguided Angel. I must say I was a little disappointed that not all of characters make an appearance in this book. The story does pick up where we left off - Jack broke the bond with Mimi and is with Schuyler. The epic battle with the Silver Bloods have left people dead and some in hiding.  

Misguided Angel is told in three parts from the perspective of Schuyler, Mimi, and a newcomer - Deming Chen, a Venator from Shanghai. Deming has arrived to solve the gruesome murder of a vampire in the NYC coven. 

  • Schuyler and Jack are in Florence trying to find a gate to Hell. Schuyler understands it is her role to protect these gates so that Silver Bloods do not come into this world. They have a huge obstacle in the beginning of the book, but helping hands turn up in mysterious places.  

  • Mimi has a huge part, and we really get to know her character. Seems like she may have a soft side.

  • Oliver (Schuyler's conduit) and Mimi find out they have a lot in common, and actually need each other. 

  • There is a new threat to vampires besides Silver Bloods. This is the main focus of the book, and where Deming Chen enters.

  • Deming is interesting. I hope she sticks around. 

  • We don't hear a peep out of Bliss, or certain others. 

  • And of course, we leave off with a bit of a cliff-hanger (that I won't spoil). The next book "should" take Mimi on a mission, but I won't tell you why. You may be able to figure it out by reading my #ATxTBF post last month.

Bottom line....I loved it! This was a super fast read, and I wish the book was longer. I wish that about every good book, especially Melissa's. I am certain die-hard Red Bloods will love Misguided Angel. If you have never read this series, Blue Bloods is the first.

5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading! 

Oct 20, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Sweet Valley High

Guess what!?! Sweet Valley High lives on! Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later will explore the lives of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who are now estranged. What happened to Elizabeth (the mild one) and Jessica (the wild one) after they left the California coast? Take from People.com:

While Jessica still lives in their hometown, Elizabeth has moved to N.Y.C. – and is looking for revenge toward her sister. What did Jessica do to cause the rift? Do they still wear matching lavaliere necklaces? Whatever happened to Todd Wilkins? And is Winston Egbert still a dork? Find out when the book hits stands March 29.

I am SO excited!! I loved SVH so much when I was in school. I could zip through one of those books in a day. You can pre-order now. Not sure when Amazon will have the new cover up. Here is an interview with the author Francine Pascal from the Teens @ Random (Random House):

Where did you grow up?
New York City.

Where do you live today?
New York City and the South of France.

Did you always like reading?
What was your favorite book growing up?
I always loved reading. Growing up, my favorite book was A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, since I was a small child, I was always writing either poems or plays. . . plays in which I had the starring part.

Have you written any books besides the Sweet Valley series?
I've written Hangin' Out with Cici (which became an ABC AfterSchool Special called "My Mother Was Never a Kid"), The Hand-Me-Down Kid (also made into an ABC AfterSchool Special), My First Love and Other Disasters, and Love and Betrayal & Hold the Mayo. I've also worked on a musical and several adult books.

How did Sweet Valley begin?
I originally planned to sell the idea for a daytime drama featuring teenage characters to television networks, until a friend suggested that a book series, rather than a television series, might be the best way to fully develop the fictitious Southern California town of Sweet Valley. The rest is publishing history — and now a TV show, too!

Where do you get your ideas?
I get some of my ideas from watching my three daughters, but most of them come from my own memories of growing up. I can remember how romantic I was, not just about love, but romance in the classic sense — the romantic ideals: of honor and truth, of loyalty, sacrifice and fairness. Those were the elements that made a story satisfying to me. And that what I try to put in all my books. Plus action. Everybody likes action.

How did you come up with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield?
I always had a fascination with twins. The trick is to think of Elizabeth and Jessica as the good and bad sides of one person.

Which is your favorite Sweet Valley book?
Sweet Valley High #12, When Love Dies.

What is it like to have the characters you created come to life in the TV show, Sweet Valley High?
It's marvelous! Just the way I had pictured it. The characters have grown and the acting is good and I am very pleased.

Oh gosh, I hope she does a tour! *crosses fingers*

Happy Reading!

Stop the HATE - #SpiritDay

Wondering why Twitter has suddenly gone purple? Today is #SpiritDay in honor of those lives lost to homophobia, transphobia, intolerance, and bullying. The following is a statement from GLADD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). 

The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, is a simple one, not dissimilar to the idea of "Spirit Week" held in many high schools, and can be summed up in three words: Everyone Rally Together.

Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks. But just as importantly, it's also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.

Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride that was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978.

As one of the event's Facebook pages says: "This event is not a seminar nor is it a rally. There is NO meeting place. All you have to do is wear purple." 

Wearing purple on October 20 is a simple way to show the world that you stand by these courageous young people and a simple way to stand UP to the bullies. Remember those lives we've tragically lost, and show your solidarity with those who are still fighting. 'Go Purple' today!  

There are many ways that you can show your support on this day of remembrance. You can wear purple, Visit the GLADD site, make your Twitter avatar purple, make your Facebook profile purple, and download free graphics provided by GLADD and post them proudly on your profile. You can also blog. I have chosen to do all of these things. What is most important on this day is to spread love and tolerance. You may not agree with someone's gay or transgender lifestyle, but understand that this is their choice. Teasing, taunting, name calling, and violence will not turn a person 'un-gay.' The only thing you are achieving is spreading hate. (plus you look like a complete moron)

One last thing you can do today, and hopefully practice for the rest of your life. PLEASE tell (and show) your kids, nieces, nephews, neighbors children, that the word "gay" and "fag" are not terms that can not be interchanged with words like "stupid" or "lame." Statements like, "...that is so gay" and "...you look like a fag" are NOT okay. They will NEVER be okay. I know we see it in the movies. I know our friends may say it. But, it's not okay. Tell everyone it's not okay. Eventually, people will hear you. 

Now, go and get those purple pants on!

Happy Reading!

Oct 19, 2010

#ATxTBF giveaway ends Fri at sundown...okay, midnight.

Austin Teen Book Festival was a huge success, and to celebrate my bookjoy, I am giving away some Swag and ARCs that I picked up for you all. Her is the loot:

Sophie Jordan - bookmark, book announcement, and sticker of Firelight
Kiersten White - bookmark of Paranormalcy
Nancy Werlin - 2 bookmarks - Impossible and Extraordinary
James Dashner - sneak peak of The Scorch Trials and a SIGNED bookmark of Maze Runner
Susane Colassanti - Waiting For You announcement, Take Me There announcement, & a SIGNED Something Like Fate announce

...but wait, there's more! I am also throwing in 2 galley's that I picked up at the festival. Rich and Mad by William Nicholson and Virgin Terriroty by James Lecesne. 

Contest ends Friday, October 22nd at midnight. 

Follow this blog (please)
US address only
Extra entries if you Tweet, blog of effbook about the contest 
Extra entries if you follow me on Twitter - @jenbigheart - let me know who you are.

Good luck and happy reading! 

Happy Release Day!

Congratulations to Laurie Halse Anderson for the release of Forge

From School Library Journal:

Gr 6-10–This sequel to Chains (S & S, 2008) opens with Curzon, an enslaved teen who was freed from prison by Isabel, recalling his escape and anticipating the future. After an argument with Isabel about where they should go next, the 15-year-old battles the British at Saratoga and winters in Valley Forge with the Patriots. He reveals many details of the conditions endured by the soldiers during the winter of 1777-1778, including the limited food supply, lack of adequate shelter, and tattered clothing. When Curzon and Isabel meet again, they have both been captured and must devise a plan of escape once again. While the Patriots are fighting for the freedom of a country, these young people must fight for their personal freedom. This sequel can be read alone but readers will benefit from reading the first book, which develops the characters and reveals events leading up to the winter at Valley Forge. An appendix clarifies historical facts and real-life characters. A list of colloquial terms used throughout the novel is appended.Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD 

Congratulations to Andrea Cremer for the release of Nightshade

From Booklist:

Werewolves Ren and Calla—the young alpha male and female of two carefully controlled packs—are constantly sparring yet clearly attracted to each other. The plans for their impending union, designed to create a new pack, are upset by the arrival of Shay, a human man, and Calla risks her own safety and the future of her new pack by falling both in love and lust with him. Cremer’s thriller is less overtly romantic than Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and has minimal character development, but that’s not what will keep readers turning the many pages of this quick read. Though some of the myriad twists and turns are predictable, there’s enough action to engage any reluctant reader. The unresolved ending promises a sequel, and Cremer’s multitiered society of nonhuman creatures with intriguing powers has plenty of room to explore. Her descriptions of werewolves in their wolf state are strongly rooted in their love of nature and the joy of physical strength and freedom, and will no doubt have teens debating the relative merits of werewolves versus vampires. Grades 7-11. --Debbie Carton

Congratulations to Becca Fitzpatrick for the release of Crescendo!

From Amazon:

The sequel to the New York Times Best selling phenomenon, Hush, Hush! Nora should have know her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.

The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

Happy Reading!

Oct 18, 2010

Teen Read Week 2010

Teen Read Week was initiated by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) in 1998. The purpose of Teen Read Week is to encourage and inspire teens find Bookjoy! It is a great way for libraries to promote thier library by having free, fun activities, programs and reading sessions for teens. This year's Books with Beat @ your library®," which encourages teens to read poetry, audiobooks, books about music, and more.
Here is author and poet Nikki Grimes where she explains the role of the library in her younger years. She is a wonderful author and an inspiration to all! 

Teen Read Week has a great Wiki page full of ideas. Here just a few of my favorites I found:

2010 Theme ideas:

Read Beat (Audiobooks)
It's Got a Beat (Music and dance)
To the Beat of a Different Drummer (Iconoclasts)
The Beatdown (Awareness about bullying, abuse, and violence)
Beat Generation (Beatniks and poetry)
On the Beat (Crime, detectives and mysteries)
A Beating Heart (Love and romance)
Check Your Heartbeat (Medicine and health)
We Can Beat 'Em (Sports and Athletics)

These are great ideas, and I can picture the displays! 

51 Ideas for Teen Read Week
by Pam Spencer Holley (reprinted with permission)

1. Extended library hours
2. Addition of lots of paperbacks
3. Open House with food and volunteers to explain teen activities
4. Set up a Suggestion Box, then post suggestions with responses
5. Establish a Teen Advisory Group
6. Design and set up a website/blog/MySpace location
7. Collect and post teen reviews [offer some instruction in review writing]
8. Amnesty Week to coincide with TRW
9. Sleep-in with teens reading all night, followed by breakfast
10. Books to Movies festival
11. Laugh-In film festival with lots of old funny movies
12. Stand-up Comedy Night
13. Pizza Tasting Contest
14. Ice Cream Sundaes Contest
15. Night/afternoon of gaming
16. Sponsor a Battle of the Bands
17. Redesigned book jacket contest
18. Anime/Manga Character contest
19. Self-defense training session
20. Salsa dancing [or any other dancing style--hire an instructor]
21. Teen photo contest [ex. Potentially Funny Situations]
22. Talent Show
23. Program on being a clown
24. Book giveaways
25. Karaoke night
26. Scavenger Hunt
27. Duct-tape or other crafts
28. Murder Mystery Night [rewrite to murder a comedian]
29. Librarian Challenge [offer something silly in exchange for # books/pages read]
30. Free rentals of DVDs, VHS, audiobooks during TRW
31. Teen-produced Public Service Announcements
32. Partner [school and public library]
33. Family Activity--teens read to younger kids at library
34. Which book would you save from a fire?
35. Trivia contests [about comedians perhaps]
36. Contest to create new Knock-Knock jokes
37. Display photos of teens reading
38. School-wide read-in [during the day; after school; at a mall, etc.]
39. "Sock It to Reading"
40. Bulletin board filled with book title suggestions from teens
41. Teen Book Column in local newspaper; teen reviews
42. Teens read books to kids at hospital, day care centers, etc.
43. Paperback and/or Comic Book swap
44. Media Swap
45. Joke Swap
46. Tickets to a concert for readers
47. Contest to select teens for TV PSA [local station]
48. Radio talk show interview--teens and reading
49. Write a letter to your favorite author
50. Read-a-thon of teen writings
51.   Podcast teens reading scary short-stories and put it on the internet

What can YOU do to celebrate Teen Read Week? Me...I'm off to volunteer at Austin Public Library! 

Happy Reading!

Beautiful Darkness Tour...I was the Swag Hag!

Ba-Ba-Beautiful Darkness!

I must say, Austin is a town that loves books and promoting literacy. The Beautiful Darkness release party at Book People was a ton of fun and for some (lucky) reason, I was allowed to be the Swag Hag! What is that you ask? I would be happy to tell you! Mundie Moms gave me a shout and asked if I would help out passing out the swag. Hellz yes was my answer! I dubbed myself...the Swag Hag. To be fair, my friend Stephanie Pellegrin was also passing out swag and I don't know how she would feel about the "hag" bit, but I am a-okay with it. I digress...

Margie, Anastasia, and Kami

The event started at 6pm for the muggles, but lucky us....we got to meet Kami and Margie beforehand. Enter the fab Anastasia Hopcus. She wrote Shadow Hills (which you need to read), and is a local gal. We dig that. Anywho, everybody went over their little jobs - Girls In the Stacks were in charge of the Blog TV feed, Justly Jennifer was the photog and made the super cute badges everyone was wearing. Anastasia was the interviewer along with Katie from Mundie Moms, and Stephanie and me were the hags. Happy, happy hags. 


*swoon again*

Kami and Margie were so warm, funny, and engaging. You can tell they have known each other a long time. I think they are just like my husband and me. Crazy huh! There were some awesome questions and answers at the event. I tried to remember as much as I can. Here ya go:

Margie said Kami wanted to name Beautiful Creatures "Kami: a book by Kami Garcia. Lol!

Beautiful Creatures was originally called 16 Moons. The gals said they were pretty much set on the title, but it just wasn't meant to be. They were thumbing through the book looking for something catchy. They found it!

If Kami dressed up for halloween, they would be: Kami - a cool Star Wars person

Kami is a better cook than Amma.

Margi wrote some of her parts in Italy. Kami has never been to Italy. 

The event was recorded on their Blog TV channel. Check it out like NOW!

#Beautiful Darkness Swag Hags (its a good thing kids!)

It was a great event followed by a hilarious dinner at EZ's and a made dash through the Half Price Books the size of Costco. I hope everyone can catch Margie and Kami on the #beautifuldarknesstour. You won't regret it!!!

Happy Reading!