Feb 28, 2011

Cover Reveal - Misfit by Jon Skovron

Misfit by Jon Skovron
August 2011 by Amulet

What if people told you your whole life that you were evil? How would you prove them wrong? Keep your head down, follow the rules, blend in? Jael Thompson would like to do that, but since her mother was a demon, that’s a little hard. Especially after her sixteenth birthday, when her father gives her a present that unlocks her powers and brings her face to face with her past and her parentage. Can she rise above her demonic nature and protect her loved ones from the forces of Hell? Or are some kids just born to cause trouble?

Today, Jon posted the cover of his new book, Misfit due out this summer! I am huge fan of Jon. He is hilarious and not too sore on the eyes either. *fans self* Struts and Frets was a must read for me last year. A book for boys written by a boy...gotta have it. Jon says, "The typeface was designed by Sammy Yuen and art directed by Chad Beckerman." Sammy has designed SO many YA covers, Perfect, Leviathan, The Fallen series, The Dream Catcher trilogy.... He is amazing. Check out the links above. 

You can find Jon HERE and add Misfit on Goodreads HERE

Memento Nora - Interview with Angie Smibert (& Giveaway)

Hey kids, let's welcome Memento Nora author, Angie Smibert! *claps hands wildly*

I was surprised to read that you worked for NASA for over ten years. Tell us a little about what you did.
Yes, I worked at NASA's Kennedy Space Center before I started writing full time. There, I was the head of a digital media lab. We did videos, websites, web applications, cd-roms, etc. I wrote instructional / promotional videos and developed online training. I know more about nondestructive evaluation of Shuttle and ground support equipment than I really need to know. It was a very cool job in an exceedingly cool place.

You had me at the TFC - Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, where did this idea originate?
I was reading about some experiments in the field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Researchers are testing certain already available drugs to see if they lessen the stranglehold traumatic memories have on sufferers. (Some do, btw.) Then I had this vision of a Starbucks / frozen yogurt kind of place on every corner that dispensed the pill. Then I asked myself what kind of world would have them--and who would be the least likely character to spit out the pill.

Nora's family has a dirty little secret that changes each member in a different way. Who do you think is affected more?
That's a tough question. I won't give away the secret, but each family member is affected differently. It's the
catalyst for Nora's change, but this secret has ruled her mother's life for so long--and not in a good way.

What was the decision behind making this story from all three friends perspectives and not just Nora?
In the first draft, I told the story just from Nora's point of view. However, it felt incomplete--and her perspective on the world was still a bit limited even at the end. Introducing Micah and Winter's points of view let me play with the idea that everything isn't what it seems. And I like the idea of the readers getting three
different perspectives and then they can put it all together themselves.

When you were in the early stages of developing Nora's character, did you have someone in mind? Family member? Actress?
Yes and no. Overall Nora isn't based on particular person; she's kind of an every girl. But, her secret (really her mom's) was inspired by someone I know. (It's not me or my mom, but I'd rather not give that person's identity away.)

Nora, Micah, and Winter ride a fine line of adventure and danger, did you have dissonance about the ending?
I didn't have any dissonance about the ending. I had it in mind from the beginning. However, I've had family and friends tell me they were "prepared to hate me until they got to the very end."

What is your proudest literary moment?
Getting the letter from the publisher saying they wanted to buy Memento Nora!

How will you celebrate NORA's release day?
Hopefully, I'll have a nice little party / signing --and then maybe take my family and friends out for something really good to eat.

What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on a sequel to Memento Nora, and that's all I'm going to say. ;)
*update -Book #2The Forgetting Curve is a go!

"I’m not normally an artsy-craftsy girl, and I can’t really draw. But, I have hit upon a crafty way that helps me visualize the characters and elements of my novel(s). "

Thank you, Angie! Personally, I can't wait for MN #2!
Check out my review of Memento Nora HERE

You can find Angie at her website, the Class of 2k11, and on Twitter.

One lucky winner will win my ARC of Memento Nora and several more people will win signed Memento Nora bookmarks! 

Contest rules:
US & CAN for the ARC & International for bookmarks
Must be 13+
Must be a follower
Contest ends at midnight CST, Wednsday, March 9th
Winner will be chosen using Random.org
Must fill out the form below to be officially entered
Good luck!

*Giveaway closed*

Review - Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
April 1st 2011 by Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

From the Publisher:
Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

Set 30-40 years in to the future, New York City isn't exactly paradise. Police patrol the city and there are mandatory curfews in place. People try to stay "glossy" by shopping from their cars and phones, but the truth is, unless you live in a compound with high security, the city is not the ideal place to live. After seeing a gruesome murder, Nora takes her first trip to the TFC - Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. With one tiny pill, Nora can forget the incident ever happened. The TFC is the first time she meets Micah, a boy who spells trouble with a capital T. Micah lives in a seemingly abandoned building inhabited by the cities mutts, and at one point was homeless. He isn't exactly a boy you would want to take home to meet your father, but soon Nora and Micah, with the help of Micah's friend Winter, begin to wonder why everyone needs to have their memory erased at the TFC. Why would a city that abides to a curfew witness so many events that memories need to constantly be erased? Soon, with the help of memories they refuse to let go, they begin to make connections to the pill, city violence, and the TFC. Only problem is....who can they trust, and how can they pretend to be "glossy" when the world around them is literally being blown apart. 

Memento Nora is a great blend of violence, mystery, suspense, and romance. We aren't smothered with futuristic terms and devices. Instead, Smibert spends her time painting a dark and gloomy picture of a decaying New York City. Abandoned buildings, ram-shackled houses, and boarded up businesses are described with ominous detail. It is something no wants to see in the future. When she isn't horrifying us with descriptions of a destroyed city, Smibert spends her time shaping the personalities of three young people. Nora, Micah, and Winter seem to have few things in common, but when their lives overlap, they are unstoppable. Told from their point of view, we jump from the three friends perspectives at just the right moments to keep us staying tuned and the pages turning.

There are a few side characters, Winter's grandfather and Nora's mother, for example, that are notable in their own right. I loved the way Nora's mother's story unfolds through the eyes of her daughter, Nora. We sense something isn't quite right after her first confession at the TFC, but I didn't want to imagine what was eventually uncovered. Oh, the secrets...the lies! Not everything is predictable. This novel goes by quickly, it's not even 200 pages. I'll be honest, I wanted more, but I so love that this book is a stand alone. OR, I should say, could be a stand alone. Either way...it's a winner!

Sidenote: Book #2The Forgetting Curve is a go!

4.5 Stars

Feb 27, 2011

In My Mailbox

For Review:
End of the Line by Angela Cerrito

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (thx Cari Blogs!)
The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg (thx Class of 2K11!)
Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman (thx Author2Author!)
Awesome signed swag from bunches of Class of 2K11 authors

There are notes about the story all throughout....

Currently Reading:
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (audio), almost done!
The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Interview with Angie Smibert, author of Memento Nora (& giveaway)
Wonderland by Joanna Nadin reviews & giveaway

Feb 26, 2011

Cover Reveal - Lost In Time by Melissa de la Cruz

Lost In Time by Melissa de la Cruz
October 4th 2011 by Hyperion

From MTV Hollywood Crush:
"Lost In Time" picks up with Schuyler Van Alen and her love Jack Force forced to go their separate ways after their trip to Florence. She must travel to Alexandria to fulfill the Van Alen legacy by searching for Catherine of Siena and the Gate of Promise, while he returns to the Big Apple to face his twin sister (and former bondmate) Mimi. Things get even more complicated when Mimi jets off to Egypt to find her former lover Kingsley Martin, all while the Coven threatens to fall apart around her. Just another day on the Upper East Side, no?

This is one of a few series that I love ALL of the covers. Whether you read the Blue Blood series or not, you have to hand it to the folks at Hyperion...they do a great job! I love the hint of Egypt at the bottom of the picture too....gorgeous!

If you want to see the entire post, go HERE

Feb 24, 2011

The Book Blogger Hop (18)

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!

It's MY question this week! 
"Do you ever wish you would have 
named your blog something different?"

Yay for my question being chosen this week! I had no clue until this morning. I'll answer my question, nope! I am happy with the name. I had to choose something almost two years ago for school. I also couldn't make it personal at all. I thought about putting my last name, Bigheart, in the title, but the professor made it clear that it had to be anonymous. So...there ya go.

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

"Share your current fave television show! Tell us a bit about it..."

I have to pat myself on the back for giving up a lot of shows that I used to watch. I have really tried to cut down my TV time. With that said, there are a few that I don't miss either because they are my fave's or family fave's. My girls love GLEE SO much that we have them all recorded and I have seen them each at least 3 times. Some more than that. Another family favorite is Vampire Diaries, American Idol, Modern Family, and The Office. For me? I love The Good Wife and Top Chef...I'm good with those. 

Leave your comments and I'll find you! 

Review & giveaway of Memento Nora
Reviews & giveaway of Wonderland

Cover Reveal - Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan

Lonestar Sophie Jordan has a cover for her upcoming sequel to Firelight!

Vanish by Sophie Jordan
September 6th, 2011 by Harper Collins

*spoilery synopsis*

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

Personally, I love the cover. It is a great companion to Firelight. Rumor has it that this is the same model as the last cover. She looks smoldering, seductive, smokey.... All things S

Sophie let me know that ARCs of Vanish will be available at the Texas Library Association in April! If I snag two, I'll bring one back for a giveaway. Can't wait to read! 

Feb 23, 2011

Review - Subway Girl by P.J. Converse

Subway Girl by P.J. Converse
March 1st, 2011 by HarperTeen

From the Publisher:
From the moment he sees Amy on a Hong Kong subway, Simon wants to talk to her. But when he finally works up the courage, he finds out he can’t. Because Amy doesn’t speak Chinese, and Simon is failing English. But despite their language barrier, Amy and Simon connect, and they discover they understand each other.

In this stunning first novel about class differences, cultural arrogance, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, sexual double standards, and love and friendship, two vulnerable teens carve out a relationship even though each seems way beyond the reach of the other.

Every time Simon sees a young and beautiful girl in the subway, he has daydreams about a chance encounter. Simon is not an outspoken guy, but when he finds out that he will probably fail out of school - no thanks to his English course - he figures he has nothing to loose and summons up the courage to speak to her. Things don't exactly go according to Simon's plan. Amy, 'Subway Girl', doesn't speak Chinese, she is actually American. Simon fumbles his way through the conversation and vows to give this whole English thing another try in order to win Amy's heart. Amy, on the other hand, is too busy dealing with her parents marital problems and hanging on to her older boyfriend. 

I jumped at the chance to read a multicultural book with Chinese American characters, but this book fell short for me. I was royally confused with the dialogue. It was not Simon's broken English (I'll talk about that later). It was the fact that the conversational passages were short, choppy, and without clues as to whom was speaking. Back forth, back forth. I had to reread several passages over again when I lost track. After three or four times, I didn't think it was just my lack of reading abilities. I normally like quick dialogue, it makes the scenes unfold as if I was watching it before my eyes. 

The supporting cast of characters were also.... Simon had a handful of friends that would periodically enter a scene and just seem to take up space. They were completely obnoxious - in the book and for me. They added very little depth to any discussion or add to the story. In my opinion, they were simply in the way. Amy also had a few friends that just seemed to be there. I had no idea what purpose the supporting characters were. Every time Simon and Amy would say their name, I would say to myself, "Who?" On the other hand, Amy's sorry-a** boyfriend had character. Whew, what a jerk! It pains me to think that there are real people in the world just like him. He was not confusing to understand at all. It's boys like this that make me want to lock up my daughter's until they are 35.

*minor spoilers*

Back to the language. I liked Simon's broken English, it added a sweet and vulnerable quality to him. He was a likable character. When Simon comes to Amy's side in her hour of need, my heart ached a little for him. While he was Amy's hero, it made me not like Amy at all. Simon's willingness to drop everything and anything for Amy made Amy look like a user. It didn't seem to be a reciprocal relationship. For instance, I would have liked to see Amy learn a little more Chinese. She seemed to have no interest and this frustrated me. Simon put himself out there repeatedly, and Amy didn't. I wish she grew more...as a young lady. This is just a personal preference, didn't really have a lot of bearing on review.

Bottom line: The multicultural element of language was a standout while character issues were a downfall. I think if I was less confused, I would have rated better. I am sure others will feel differently.

2.5 Stars

Sweet Venom Bookmark Winners

Congratulations goes to....

Jenna @ ElevenPages

Libiel A. 

Aanchal @ Book Flame

You have won a signed bookmark of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs. An email has been sent to you. You have 72 hours to contact me, or I will pick a new winner.

Feb 21, 2011

Authors & Bloggers Give Back to Texas Teens

Last Friday, StephanieJennifer and, I had the pleasure of taking around 500 books to the Austin Children's Shelter! My partner in crime, Stephanie and I have been begging, pleading, and buying books to donate since January. If you haven't read my previous posts about this en devour, go HERE and HERE.


Janice (from shelter) asked that we condense the picture book shelves and weed through the reference shelves. She wanted to have a collection that better represented the teen population of the shelter. Clearing and condensing made room for some great MG and YA books!

It took over 7 hours to get the place in order, but...we did it! That also includes a little Paco Taco break. ;)

New YA shelves

Reworked picture book & early chapter books

Reworked middle grade shelves

View from the doorway

Without our awesome donators, this would never have been possible! Stephanie and I give a BIG, WARM, and HEARTFELT THANK YOU to...

Cynthia Leitich Smith
Greg Leitich Smith
Heather Brewer
Cindy Pon
Sophie Jordan
Susane Colasanti
Ellen Hopkins
Jill S. Alexander
Jessica Anderson
Daisy Whitney
Lisa & Laura Roecker
A Blog About Nothing
Between the Covers
Addicted to Novels
Mundie Moms
Fictionally Yours
Reading Or Breathing
Diary of a Bibliophile
Life In a Book Shelf
Chick Lit Cafe
* super awesome anonymous donor

You are all truly amazing and we are so happy and thankful that you helped us spread some bookjoy! We hope that this inspires readers to take a look at their community and see if there is a need. It's amazing what time and a helping hand can do for an organization. No money required! Count your blessings and give back.

If you didn't donate and would like to (or want to donate again!), this will be a continuing project for us.
    *Thank you Jen at Library Gal for your donation!
    *Thank you Kelsey at Reading or Breathing for donating again!
    *Thank you Rachel Caine for donating the entire Morganville Vampires series!

Thank you again for all of your support and for following us on our wild and crazy journey. We hope we didn't clog the Twitter feed too bad. Special thanks goes to my PIC, Stephanie! Whew, that girl knows how to beg! Plus, she brings you donuts....

Happy Giving!

The Iron Witch - Interview with Karen Mahoney

You used to work in an occult bookstore in London, how in the word did that come to be, and how did that influence your writing?
Well, I guess I just got lucky! ;) I actually saw the shop advertising for a staff member in the window, and was interview for the job in the normal way. They particularly wanted someone with knowledge of Tarot, which is something I've been interested in since I was about 16. I've read the cards for years, and it was that background that probably helped me to get the job. As well as buying for the Tarot and Divination section of the bookstore, I eventually ended up reading Tarot for clients while sitting in the shop window. Pretty surreal...

Working in that kind of environment gives you such great access to all kinds of cool and interesting books. It's like a goldmine of research and reference material! Mythology, folklore, magick, astrology, world religions, psychology, philosophy, healing, UFOs, etc. The list is seriously endless.

Watkins Book Store - Cecil Court, London

You created 4 Orders of alchemy; Dragon, Crow, Lion, and Rose for THE IRON WITCH. Donna is in the Order of the Dragon - will we learn more about the other Orders?
Nobody has asked me that, so thank you! I loved creating those Orders and YES, you will totally learn more in future books. It should be a trilogy, and in Book 2 (THE WOOD QUEEN) you'll see representatives from all the Orders coming to Ironbridge for Donna's trial. There is a young alchemist from the Order of the Crow in London who becomes quite important (though not romantically), and in Book 3 (THE STONE DEMON), we may even see Donna travel to London... ;)

*Wow, so glad I asked! 

Where did you find the names for your characters?
Donna's name is an homage to one of my favourite characters in literature, in Daphne du Maurier's FRENCHMAN'S CREEK - the main character is the Lady Dona St. Columb, and my Donna Underwood originally had her name spelled the same way. We changed it to the more familiar spelling during edits, though. Her surname is a nod to the 'woodland' nature of the Ironwood where the elves live, and I also like that it sounds like "underworld" - there's something quite shamanic about the journey Donna goes through in her life, what with the way she's injured and then remade with magic.

Xan... I don't know, to be honest. He was always Alexander/Xan, though his surname is taken from one of my favourite comicbook characters, Dick Grayson (who used to be Robin when he was a boy, but is Nightwing now that he's all grown up).

Navin is a variant of Naveen, and Naveen Andrews (from LOST) is one of my favourite actors. :)

Donna has a great best friend, Nav, did you have a male best friend that served as a model?
Ha! Yes, absolutely. My best friend, Vijay (or Veej, as he likes to be called), is the model for Nav. They are very different, of course - and not just because my friend is a lot older! - but the humour and loyalty is DEFINITELY there. I know that a lot of authors say they don't base their characters on real people, and I suppose that's true... But with Navin, it just happened and I couldn't help myself. My friend loves it and thinks he should come to booksignings with me. ;)

*Um, he totally should!

Something has to be said about the book cover - gorgeous! How did the cover art process go?
The cover art process was honestly awesome - I couldn't ask for a better cover, and I'm just incredibly grateful to Lisa Novak at Flux for working so hard on it. Everything about it is brilliant, right down to the Elixir bottle that Donna is holding (the liquid inside is even red, which is perfect!). If you want to know more about the cover, I did an interview for Melissa Walker's "Cover Stories" feature - including feedback from Lisa on how she approached designing the cover to The Iron Witch HERE.

Australian cover

Any plans to come to the USA?
Sadly, not at the moment. I was going to try to attend BEA, but that's unlikely now. However, 2012 is a big possibility - I hope to do something then. :)
Thank you, Karen!!
Thank you so much for having me and for such great questions!

You can find Karen on her site HERE or on Twitter HERE

Check out my review of The Iron Witch HERE

Feb 19, 2011

In My Mailbox

For Review:
Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez (Galley Grab)
Subway Girl by P.J. Converse (from Good Golly Miss Holly)

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon (thx Cindy!)

From the Library:
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (audio)
Love Is the Higher Law by David Lethivan

Gone by Lisa McMann (for signing)
The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda (for signing - $4!)
Angel by James Patterson (for my daughter's who love this series!)

Currently Reading:
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (audio)
Love Is the Higher Law by David Lethivan

Win a SIGNED Sweet Venom book mark ENDS Feb 22nd
Interview with Iron Witch author, Karen Mahoney on Monday
Giveaway from Lisa McMann

Bright Young Things & Priscilla the Great Winners

Congratulations goes to....

Ivy Reads 

You have won a SIGNED copy of Priscilla the Great. *claimed*


Sasha S.

You have won a SIGNED copy of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen. An email has been sent to you. You have 72 hours to contact me, or I will pick a new winner. 

*I wanted to let everyone know that Anna herself choose the winner! This is what Anna said about the winning entry:

"What fun! My favorite was Sasha Switz's-- I love the idea of Penelope being a sort of mentor to the girls, and turning out to be as duplicitous and nasty as ever."

Feb 18, 2011

Cover Reveal - Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

Supernaturally by Kiersten White
September 2011 by HarperTeen

Kiersten unveiled her book cover this morning. Here is a little of what she said this morning:

"Covers are so terrifying because authors can spend hundreds of hours on the inside of books making them as pretty as possible, but the outside is utterly out of our control. We all want our books to sit on that shelf in their best dresses, screaming "PICK ME UP!" (which, to clarify, is not the sentiment I was hoping to express in my prom dresses, because a book screaming "PICK ME UP!" and a girl screaming "PICK ME UP!" are very different things), but we don't know whether or not that will happen. This time around I knew I'd be happy. I just didn't know how freak-out-oh-my-gosh happy I'd be."

This definitely screams..."PICK ME UP!" This book is crazy gorgeous. I want to say I like more than Paranormalcy, but then again.... I guess they well together as a pair. I'll stick with that. Can't wait to read!

Feb 17, 2011

The Book Blogger Hop (18)

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 books would you like to 
see turned into a movie?"

We talked about this over Christmas break, but I'll say it again....The Giver. Jeff Bridges has been trying for YEARS to try to put this into production, and for one reason or another, it just hasn't happened. Le Sigh. I will say that I am scared to death to see what The Hunger Games will look like. Please, oh please don't dumb it down because of the violence! 

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

"If you are a fan of Science Fiction,
what is your favorite book?"

I am a huge YA Sci-Fi fan! There are SO many that I love...this is so not fair. I'll break it down a little so I can name more than one. Lately, I loved Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I'm reading Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card right now. I like what I see so far, and I know it is a huge favorite of many. I have high expections for that one. Overall, my favorite would have to be The Giver by Lois Lowry. To my surprise, I read this little gem the other day on Lowry's blog:

"I have just finished the first draft of Part 2 of the fourth book in what was once The Giver trilogy, soon to be, I guess, quartet. It is now at 309 pages so I expect the final first draft will be well over 400, the longest book I've done."

Can you say, FREAKING OUT?! I am! I saw Lois speak just last month and she never mentioned this bit of hot news. Gah! I guess it's better that she didn't. I would have screamed in front of an auditorium of people. 

Leave your link and I will hop back to you! Thanks for stopping by...

Win signed Sweet Venom bookmarks ENDS Feb 22nd

Audio Review - Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
January 2008 by Unabridged
Read by Sara Zarr, author

From the Publisher:
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

What happens when someone you thought was lost to you forever comes back? For sixteen-year-old Jenna, it isn't exactly a reunion full of laughter and hugs. With Cameron's return, Jenna is confronted with suppressed memories and emotions tied to her only childhood friend. He brings back a painful time in her life that she has worked hard to forget. Eight years ago, Cameron was everything to her and having him back fills a void she has always had, but his return causes Jenna to revert back to some of her old, unhealthy ways. Jenna binge eats, a habit she sought help for when she left the old, fat 'Jennifer' behind, and she has some serious negative inner dialouge. Jenna has worked hard to forget those years of loneliness and has managed to hide it all from her friends and boyfriend. Jenna feels like she needs to save her long-lost friend all over again, but doing so might mean she looses everything she has worked for.

I'm not really sure how this book slipped through the cracks, but I'm so glad I found the audio version at the library. Sweethearts is a story of two childhood friends with an unbreakable bond. They shared everything together as small children. Cheers, tears, and an event that eventually sends each of them in two different directions. We learn about that unnerving event in flashbacks spread across many chapters from Jenna. Slowly, we begin to understand what lonely and unhappy children the two were. Her recollections creep up at various times, and now at 16, she is confronted with painful memories she would rather forget. The story unfolds at an unhurried pace. We aren't bombarded with answers to mounting questions. The reasons why Cameron left, why he wasn't dead after all, and what he is doing back in Salt Lake all come nice and easy.

Watching Jenna confront her past and try to keep a firm foot in reality was, at times, heartbreaking. I found myself shaking my head as if to say, "That isn't true, don't say that." Jenna is a young girl that has to work at being happy. It doesn't come natural for her. She has to continue to tell herself positive things and finds herself playing the part of happy in order to appear normal to everyone. Cameron doesn't pretend at all. He's broken, he will admit that. We see that every time he disappears for a little while. This story is evidence that painful words can be more damaging than physical blows.   

As a reader, I am convinced that Cameron and Jenna have a strong tie, some link that can never be broken no matter the distance between them. Even if that day never happened, they would be bound in some way. You can't help thinking about some of your childhood friends and wondering what they would be like today. Wondering, who is the Cameron in my life?

I was happy to learn that the author, Sara Zarr, was the voice behind the novel. Zarr spoke with a monotonous tone that conveyed Jenna's numbness to everything. When I say conveyed, I mean nailed, as in perfected. This is not a dialogue driven novel. There are no drastic changes in voice from character to character. We are inside Jenna's head for most of the story with her pessimistic thoughts and worries about everything. Zarr's pitch, tone, and almost lack of inflection kept me wrapped in this story. I need to meet her and see if she sounds like this in real life.

Bottom line: Yes, this book is sad, but not depressing. Hopeful is a better word.

5 stars  

Feb 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Scored by Lauren McLaughlin
October 25th 2011 by Random House

From the Publisher:
Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above.Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

I'm all up for a sci-fi dystopian! Not sure how I feel about the cover...if it would change, I wouldn't cry about it. This one doesn't do a whole lot for me, but the premise sounds like something I would love. 

Cover Reveal - Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs (& Giveaway)

I am happy to be a part of the Sweet Venom reveal for Tera Lynn Childs today!

Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls #1) by Tera Lynn Childs
October 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books

Three teenage, Grace, Gretchen, and Greer, are descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in a world where monsters lurk in plain sight. 

I think the cover is beautiful. I'm not sure which one of the three girls this is a photo of. It almost looks like her hair has a mind of its own. Is it swirling like Medusa's snake hair? I think so...

You can see their character collage in this Books, Boys, Buzz...post.

You can find Tera HERE and HERE and on Twitter and Sweet Venom on Facebook
Put Sweet Venom on your Goodreads TBR pile!

Because Tera is awesome, she has provided some wicked cool SIGNED book marks for a few of you!

Contest Rules: 
Must be 13+
Must be a follower
Contest ends at midnight CST, Tuesday, February 22nd
Winner will be chosen using Random.org
Must fill out the form below to be officially entered
Good luck!

*Giveaway closed*

Feb 14, 2011

Must Have Monday

Must have's for the special day....

Follower Love Giveaway Hop Winners

Congratulations goes to...

Carla from Cuidado com o Dálmata


Maria from Maria (pronounced Mariah) I Blame My Mother...

You have won a SIGNED Last Sacrifice bookplate from Richelle Mead. An email has been sent to you. You have 72 hours to contact me, or I will pick a new winner.

Quick Reviews - Looking For Alaska, Keys to the Repository, & Bloody Valentine

Looking For Alaska by John Green
October 2008 by Playaway

I really think I should have read this book and not listened to it. It was a little slow at times for me, and the humor was there but a little light. I think the message was special, and the countdown in days to the big event was a good way to transition from chapter to chapter. Miles, the protagonist, was a little dull for a lead role while Alaska was a little bit of everything and oh so interesting. I could easily see plain little Miles falling for her. Hard.

I'll stick to reading Green's books next time...

3.75 Stars

Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz
June 29th 2010 by Disney Hyperion

Need to catch up with the Blue Blood series FAST? This is your book. Told in documents from the repository, Keys gives the reader a condensed version of all of the Blue Blood books up to date. A few companion stories give insight into the lives of characters. Think of them as scenes that hit the cutting room floor. A list of characters and a dictionary of terms make this book a handy dandy notebook for fans.

3.5 Stars

Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz
December 28th 2010 by Disney Hyperion

Wow, this little book is jam packed of some serious love! This book is for the Schuyler and Jack fans. No spoilers from me....hot hot hot!
5 Stars